St82 STRASBURG, ILLINOIS. HUNDERT-
Emblem Design by Kevin Pikesh
Cover Design by Leo Kruenegel
This book prepared and printed by United Graphics, Inc., Mattoon, Illinois
V. Ll^T Sur*
STRASBURG IS . . .
church steeples, the new Community Building . . . leafy trees shading visiting neighbors
the town . . . summer flower beds, freshly trimmed green lawns.
the old elevator rising above
STRASBURG IS . . .
productive farms run by men who love this land and know how to use it .
in 4-H . . . humming grain dryers in the fall . . . hauling cattle to the sale barn
loaded grain trucks lined up at the elevators . . . anhydrous wagons.
their sons and daughters showing livestock
. black and white Holesteins on pasture . . .
STRASBURG IS . . .
woods to walk in, mushroom hunting in the green spring or hickory nutting in the golden autumn . . . farm ponds for
summertime fishing . . . nature trails at. Hidden Springs, the Big Tree . . . pheasant hunting.
STRASBURG IS . . .
soup suppers, ice cream socials. Homecoming . . . stores, lumber yards, woodcrafting, the feed mill . . . basketball
games, Little League games on summer evenings . . . Halloween trick and treating . . . Easter sunrise services. Mission Festivals,
visiting shut-ins . . . yellow school buses . . . auctions . . . bicycling, gardening, playing cards . . . family reunions, the Alumni
Banquet, covered dish dinners.
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Strasburg - Original Town
How It All Began
Looking out over this area, we see houses and
buildings; highways with cars, trucks, and school
buses; green fields of wheat that turn yellow in the
summer sun; or loads of corn and beans pouring out
of a combine. It is hard to visualize how this
country must have looked when it was unoccupied
except for the many wild animals and an occasional
band of Indians who cailed this their home.
It has been popularly accepted that there was
a salt lick in what later became the center of town
just south of the Nippe Tavern building. Great
numbers of deer would travel long distances and
gather here to partake of this mineral so necessary
for their well-being. Now and then a hunter would
venture into this area, and some might stay for the
summer and return to their native habitat in
Kentucky or beyond the Wabash. Throughout the
country were a half dozen log cabins. Word spread
of the prairie country abounding in wild life. Some
began to stay and plant a few crops to add to their
diet of game and fish.
The first reported settler in Richland was
David Elliott, who came in 1825. His brother
Jacob joined him, and later they set up a horse mill
and a still house to avoid having to take their grain
to Williamsburg to be ground. Wm. Weeger settled
on Richland Creek in the spring of 1826, and his
son John and family came with him. On July 4,
1826, John's wife had twin daughters. The
neighboring Indians were fascinated with them, and
made a double papoose cradle for them. This was
kept in the family for years.
Two hardy pioneers were brothers, John and
James Renshaw, who drove hogs from White
County. They were so pleased with the country
that they returned home, sold out their possessions,
and moved, settling on Richland Creek in 1826.
John stayed and farmed, but brother James moved
on to Shelbyville and later to Decatur.
Soon the covered wagons of the Kentuckians,
Virginians, and others cut trails over the unbroken
prairies. The first house to be built on the ground
now covered by Strasburg, was reportedly a one
room home built a stone's throw from the deer
lick. The house was abandoned, and the deer
ventured back to their salt lick, but in time another
and still another frontiersman occupied the shack.
Pioneers trekked westward, arid with no roads
to follow or obstructions to hinder them, they
began to cut their own trails. One trail that was
eventually cut began around Centralia and came
northward through central Illinois. Strasburg is
built on the road that was once this trail — the
Grand Prairie Trail. It crosses most of the state
from south to north just as the Old National Trail
does from west to east. This trail became worn by
the wheels of covered wagons. Many watered their
oxen, horses, and cows in the Richland Creek
tributary, which runs through the center of Stras-
burg. The watering hole was near where York's
Garage building now stands.
A number of the covered wagons that took
part in the overland trip to Oregon in 1847 passed
through Strasburg to join with other wagons from
the Springfield area. Later, even as late as 1890,
covered wagons would come along the trail, then a
graded road, and stop not at the water hole, but
the trough at one of the town's pumps.
The territory around Strasburg was such rich
soil that the first efforts at actual farming were
being made around 1840.
As the pioneersman moved out, the farmers
bought their land at five to seven dollars an acre, for
that which had been broken. Government land was
bought for two dollars an acre. Later when all the
government land had been sold, the Illinois Central
put its land on the market for seven dollars per
Some of the first settlers who arrived in the
'50's~ were Brehmer, Bracken, Pikesh, Ostermeier,
Hamm, Kircher, and Harves. Many of these men
were Germans from Madison County, having come
originally from southern Germany. The town grew
and more Germans came to settle, and eventually
Strasburg became almost an entirely German com-
munity. In the 1860's and '70's Germans from
Ohio came, and in the 1880's Pennsylvania Dutch
came. A few of the later German families were
the Altags, Bueskings, Vogels, Ulmers, Kulls, and
These German farmers were hardworking,
intelligent, and frugal, and they soon made the
prairie into fertile, productive farms. They were
looking for new land and they found it here in
abundance. However, most of the land they took
to make their new homes on had to be wrested
from the "wilds." North of the present town it
was mostly wooded, and the trees had to be
cleared and the stumps removed before the ground
could be cultivated. To the south stretched large
areas of prairie, with tall grass. Here in the bogs
drainage was a problem, and diseases such as malaria
and typhoid were prevalent. The prairie grass was
well rooted, and the sod was tough and almost
impenetrable. The only plows available had a metal
point, but only a wooden mould board. "Breaking
the prairie" was an arduous task. Many who settled
here found it necessary to buy a tract of timber
ground a few miles to the east or west to provide
firewood, rails for fences, and building materials.
These early farmers spent long hours cultivating
hedge plants to make fences, but these were so
tender at the beginning that they had to be pro-
tected from the animals that the fences were
designed to keep in. The farmers were more than
happy when barbed wire was made available, so
they then could do away with rail or hedge fences.
So ends the story of our territory before
Strasburg was. On to the town itself. It's recorded
that Charles Ostermeier put up a store building
where Renshaw's now stands. He opened a general
store, and supplied the nucleus of the future town.
In 1874 when the railroad was completed through
Richland Township, Ostermeier laid out forty
acres of land surrounding his store for the site of
the town. He named it Strasburg, for his native
Strasburg on the Rhine in Germany. The streets
he named after those in St. Louis. From an early
plat book, we quote, "Strasburg has 150 souls, and
was platted March 7, 1874, by Charles Ostermeier."
The original plat of Strasburg was east of the "slab."
The land west of the road was prairie and was
farmed for a number of years.
The first money crop around Strasburg was
wheat. At one time special trains were run to town
during harvest. As time went on most of the marsh
land was reclaimed and made tillable by tiling.
Around Strasburg it's not uncommon to find a
farm with as much as two or three miles of tile.
Ostermeier's store, and Strasburg itself, pros-
The first building to be put up after Strasburg
was laid out was Allen's Hotel, run by R. H. and
A. F. Allen, and located where Max Weber now
lives. Frank Beck was first postmaster. W. D. Fink
was first blacksmith, and William Telgman moved
his brick yard in from a few miles out of. town and
established himself as first in the brick making
business. Other first businessmen were: druggist-
J. H. Wiandt; general merchant-Martin Hamm,
Storm, Henry Faster, Sr.; wagon shop-R. Rolbiger;
sawmill-W. Bowen; grain dealer-J. D. Endicott;
doctor-Dr. Amos York; shoemaker-Wm. Winkler;
saloon-M. J. Laughlin; hotel and saloon-A. F. Van
The town of Strasburg was incorporated in
1882, and Beulah Gordon records that story:
After the Lutheran Church was built at its present
site about a quarter of a mile south of Strasburg,
some citizens began to agitate for moving the
business houses there. Lawrence Zerr, then post-
master, took his postoffice to that section, and a
store, drug store, saloon, and grain buying office
soon were established in "South Burg." This rival
of the original town was just over the line in
Prairie Township. Citizens of "North Burg"
sensing the danger that threatened, decided to
incorporate the town and exclude the upstart
"South Burg" from its limits. Secret meetings
were held in the garret over the blacksmith shop,
and ways and means were plotted and discussed.
Here it was brought to light that thirty votes were
needed to carry the measure, and that "North Burg"
had only twenty-eight citizens to support it, while
"South Burg" had thirty citizens who would vote
it down. After some thought, Ostermeier and his
followers schemed a scheme, and cautiously set
about to execute it. Three young fellows from the
country were induced to bring their washings to
"North Burg," spend their Sundays in that place,
and thus establish a legal residence there. When the
specified time had elapsed and the three were bona
fide citizens of the village, and North Burgers
demanded a vote on the matter of incorporation,
and strange to say, triumphantly won the election
by the majority of one ballot. (In the town board
records of November 4, 1878, $20.00 was paid to
Mouser and Kelley "for their services in assisting
to incorporate the village of Strasburg.")
Strasburg Businesses listed 1918 from Prairie
Farmer's Directory of Shelby Co.
Beck, C.C General Store
Beck, Earl Restaurant
Bernhard Milling Co.
Duling & Bauer Blacksmith
Engel, W. W Hardware
Engel, J. L. & F. T Hardware & Implements
Faster, Edw. H Autos
Figge, Louis Harness
Green, 0. A Autos
Hasemeier, Henry Meats
Kircher, Chris General Store
More, The Lay, Co.
Nippe, Chas Sawmill
dinger & Bartlett Creamery
Pfeiffer, J. C. & Co Lumber & Undertaker
Quicksa'll, J. A Jewelry & Publisher
Rankin, Ed Garage
Seaman, J. H Drugs
Seaman, S. E Millinery
Spannagel, Wm Blacksmith
Stierwalt & Backenstow Hardware
Storm, Mrs. Anna B Millinery
Swinghart, W. E Meats
Weber, J. E. & Co General Store
Wiandt, J. H Grocer
York, E. M Clothing
Young, A. W Hardware & Grain
Beulah Gordon again writes of Strasburg in
the 1930's: Strasburg's population is 418. Busi-
nessmen of the town are: E. M. York, Clothing
Store and Restaurant; G. C. York, General Garage;
M. R. Storm, General Store; T. A. Weber and Sons,
General Store; 0. 0. Kull, General Store; William
Swigert, Garage; Gaylord Ulmer, Grocery; L. R.
Hamm, Restaurant; J. A. Quicksall, Drugs and
Jewelry; H. M. York, Barber; A. C. Duling, Black-
smith; Bryan Renshaw, Shoe Repairs; Alvin Kear-
ney, Flour, Feed and Hardware; Louis Figge,
Harness Shop; C. E. Bingaman, Cream Buyer;
Martin Pfeiffer, Lumber and Undertaking; Paul
Rincker, Buyer of Poultry, Eggs, and Cream; W. W.
Engel, Hardware and Implements; C. C. Beck,
General Store; F. F. Yakey, Elevator; F. H. Falk,
Grain Buyer; Gilbert Ulmer, Hatchery; and John
Biehler, Hatchery. The town has one newspaper.
Physicians are Dr. Risser and Dr. F. W. Schroeder.
Most of the businessmen have been in business in
town for from twenty-five to sixty years.
The Strasburg Chamber of Commerce was
active in promoting the growth of the town, and
was a determining factor in bringing Route 16
through Richland township. It's recorded that their
fight to accomplish this objective was carried to the
Governor's office before it was finally won. Dr.
Schroeder was president of this group for many
The Strasburg Homestead Association (Build-
ing and Loan Association) was organized in 1894
with Dr. Amos York as its first president and Alf
Allen, secretary. Beulah Gordon writes in 1934
about this organization, saying it has a remarkable
record. This association was responsible for build-
ing half of the town. During the first forty years
of its existence, it had but one foreclosure.
Officers in 1934 were G. C. York, president, and
George E. Kull, secretary.
Board directors of this loan association have
included: Bill Telgman, Martin Hamm, Harry
York, Joe Kull, Lauren Hamm, George E. Kull,
Merle Buesking, G. C. York, 0. O. Kull, Ruby
Templeton, Roscoe Hash, and Bill Juhnke.
Directors remember transacting business in
Martin Hamm's Office, and in later years, using the
bank for meetings.
The loan association was liquidated on Octo-
ber 1 7, 1 960. At this time 0. 0. Kull was president,
and Ruby Templeton was the secretary.
Although some of the church fathers in the
early days of Strasburg 's history did not approve of
insurance, especially life insurance, there have been
insurance agents in our community for years. The
first agents in Strasburg were probably Martin
Hamm and Henry Faster. Bob Faster also sold
insurance after World War I. For thirty-one years,
beginning in 1935, Max Weber was selling insurance
in our community. Wm. Engel also handled
insurance. George E. Kull sold insurance for more
than twenty-five years until he went into the post
office in 1934. Merle Buesking took over Mr.
Kull's insurance business, and he handled the same
companies until 1966. Rudolph Kull, insurance
agent, mentioned these past salesmen in our com-
munity: Jim Kull, Reuben Spannagel, and Henry
Silver Threads Among the Gold
August Doeding was born January 24, 1889,
the son of Fred Doeding, Sr. and Sophia Lading
Doeding. Both parents came from Germany. He
was born and reared on a farm west of St. Paul's
Cemetery. He was one of a family of six children.
In 1918 August married Rose Doehring. They
had two sons, Donald and Edwin. There are eight
August has farmed all his life. He and Rose
began housekeeping on the farm Wilbur Cress now
lives on. There Doedings remained until 1951
when they moved to their present home east of
August is remembered by many for his musical
abilities. He's played in several area orchestras.
Mae Krile (1968)
Mae Krile was born on a farm near Hazelton,
Gibson County, Indiana. She was one of Henry
and Minerva Peterson Field's eleven children.
When Mae visited Illinois relatives, she met
Charles Krile, and they were married in 1903. The
Kriles raised four children: Elmer of Windsor, Fred
of Windsor, Emma Schrimpf of Strasburg, and
Gertrude Biehler of Shelbyville. Her family
includes six grandchildren, fifteen great grand-
children, and three great great grandchildren.
In the Krile's early married life, they lived
in Strasburg, and Charles Krile was in the hardware
business with Ed Kircher. After he sold out to
Kircher, they farmed until 1961. That year they
moved to Shelbyville to retire. In 1962 Charles
Krile passed away.
Mae enjoys attending Senior Citizens meet-
ings at Strasburg where she spent the greater part of
ED AND ODELIA BUESKING
The Ed Bueskings have raised three children:
Kenneth of Strasburg, Glen at home, and Rosadelle
Nalefski of Decatur. There are four grandchildren
and one great grandchild in the family.
Ed Buesking was born in 1889 on a farm at
the southeast edge of Strasburg. He was the
youngest son of Henry and Sophia Altag. In 1918,
at the St. Paul's Parsonage, he married Odelia
Rincker, daughter of C. Martin Rincker and Louisa
Kull of Herborn. Odelia was born in 1889. She
had two sisters.
Ed has farmed all his life. They lived on the
Buesking homeplace; then in 1925 they moved to
their present farm in Herborn.
Ed and Odelia Buesking as they appeared in 1957.
Bill Collins was born in 1889 of Mary Pikesh
and Dan Collins. He has one brother, Virgil, and
two sisters, Rosetta Fling and Stella Hellman. He
has always lived near Strasburg, doing farmwork all
of his life.
In 1947 Bill moved to his present home north-
west of Strasburg.
He recalls farmwork of yesterday — shucking
corn by hand and driving calves and hogs over open
Bill Collins (1971)
Fred Popendieker was born in 1889 in Stras-
burg where Ivan Keller's home is now. His parents
were August and Minnie Doeding Popendieker.
Fred has one brother and two sisters.
In 1934 he married Lillie Vogel, and the
couple had three sons: Walter of Pittsburg, Penn.,
Harry in Mattoon, and August of Indianapolis. His
wife passed away in 1964.
Fred Popendieker has been a carpenter all his
life, most recently in the Mattoon area. His father,
August Popendieker, was one of the early prominent
carpenters of Strasburg. Fred presently divides his
time between his Strasburg residence in the south-
east part of town, and the home of son Harry in
Fred Popendieker in 1913.
Martha Bauer was born and raised in the
Gustav Schroeder home in south Strasburg right
"across from the parsonage." Her parents, both
from Germany, moved to Strasburg from St. Louis
in 1876. Gustav was the community shoemaker.
Martha was born to a family of eleven, six boys and
five girls. She remembers helping at home, also at
her father's shoemaking and flour selling business
uptown. Martha recalls babysitting for the Henry
Fasters when she was only seven years old. Taking
care of two children in those days made her one
cent a day.
Martha attended St. Paul's school. At the age
of twenty-one, she wed Andy Bauer. They farmed
on the Bauer farm north of town and Martha
remained there after her husband's death in 1957.
She has two children, Arthur of Atlanta, Ga., and
Eugene of Mattoon. Her family also includes four
grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Martha Bauer's wedding picture taken in December, 1909.
Her dress, made by Nita Schroeder, was of fine material at
25tf a yard.
Viola Ruff - taken in the 1930's.
Viola Ruff is the daughter of George and
Sophia Beery Weber. She was born near Herborn
in 1887, the youngest of a family of thirteen
Viola cared for her mother until her death,
and in 1906, she married Dan Ruff, and they lived
in Strasburg. They were the parents of three:
Mabel Lading, Clarence, deceased, and Lucille
Thomas. There are nine grandchildren, and twenty-
five great grandchildren.
Viola has been an expert in handiwork. She
has been an active church member all her life.
She is the only surviving charter member of St.
Paul's Ladies Aid. She belongs to Home Extension,
and enjoys Senior Citizens meetings.
FRED AND NORA LENZ
Fred and Nora Lenz bought their first farm in
1927 south and east of Windsor, and they still reside
Fred Lenz was one of the twelve children of
John Lenz and Caroline Tiemann Lenz. He was
born in 1885 on the Lenz farm one mile east of
town. He attended St. Paul's Church and was con-
firmed there in 1899. He married Nora McFadden
in 1910 at the Grace Lutheran parsonage with
Louis Lenz and Erma Newman serving as attendants.
Miss McFadden was born in 1888 at Ashmore to
Isaac McFadden and Aldaline Florence Moore
McFadden. She had one brother and four sisters.
The Lenzs first lived on the Becker farm east
of Strasburg. They raised five children: Yyonna
Thomason, Glafa Ohm, Glenn, Roy, and lola
Bartimus. Two daughters died in 1929. Their
family now includes eight grandchildren and three
Fred and Nora Lenz on their 60th wedding anniversary in
Emilie Lenz was born in 1883, the daughter
of Fred Doeding, Sr. and Sophia Lading Doeding.
Both parents came from Germany. She was born
and reared on a farm west of St. Paul's Cemetery.
As a young girl, she was one of the many
Strasburg girls who did housework away from
In 1907, she married John Lenz who farmed,
and there were two children: Orville of Strasburg,
and Ruby Reel, deceased. The family includes
two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
The Lenzes observed their 61st wedding anni-
versary in 1967. In 1968 John Lenz passed away.
Ethel Duncan was born in 1881 in a log house
south of Windsor, near the present Russell Carr
home. She was one of five children of Berry and
Mary Elizabeth Renner Barker, both of whom were
raised near Strasburg. Before she was a year old,
the family moved to the home where most of her
childhood was spent - west and south of Richland
Cemetery. She attended Whitlatch, Strasburg
School, (while working in the Strasburg Hotel)
and the Shelbyville School.
"Miss Barker" taught at Richland, Zalman,
Sexton Corner, and in the Strasburg grades, for a
total of nine years.
In 1910 she and Edward Duncan were married
in Springfield. They had one daughter, Gretchen.
After her husband passed away in 1957, Ethel
remained on the Duncan Homestead until 1970
when she went to live with her daughter, Mrs.
George Schumacker of near Shelbyville. Now she
resides in the Nursing Care Area of the Shelby
County Memorial Hospital.
Ethel Duncan was a charter member of the
Shelby County Home Bureau. She enjoyed
traveling and she even went to Hawaii during her
There are two granddaughters and a great
grandson in the family.
Martin Buesking (1957)
Ethel (Barker) Duncan, seated at right, as she appeared
Martin Buesking was born in 1886 on a farm
at the southeast edge of town. His parents, Henry
Buesking and Sophia Altag, had six boys and two
girls. Martin helped farm at home, and later he
farmed for Tobe Kull. He remembers that his pay
amounted to $15.00 per month for farm work.
Martin has also been employed at the livery barn,
done carpentering, and clerked for Chris Kircher.
He farmed for August Doehring, on his own home-
place, and north of town on the Spannagel land —
for a total of thirty-four years. In 1957 he and his
wife retired from farming and moved into Strasburg
where he lost his wife, the former Bessie Spannagel,
The Martin Bueskings raised eight children:
Merle of Strasburg, Vera Doehring of Strasburg,
Delores Van Scyoc of Mattoon, Harold of Mattoon,
Lorene Mayhew of Florida, Mildred Rincker of
Strasburg, Floyd of Texas, and Ralph of Strasburg.
There are twenty grandchildren, thirty great grand-
children, and one great great grandchild.
Martha Green was born in 1889 on a farm west
of town. She was the daughter of Tom and Emma
The Lading family lived at different places in
our area, and in 1907 they moved to Fairfield
where Martha met her future husband Oscar Green.
Although the Greens moved to' Oregon, and the
Ladings returned to Strasburg, Martha and Oscar
remained in contact and they were wed in 1911.
They lived in Strasburg. In 1929 they built the
brick home where Martha still lives.
0. A. Green passed away shortly before they
would have observed their golden anniversary.
There are one son Lowell, two granddaughters, and
three great grandchildren.
Martha Green (1961)
Sophie Lenz as a young girl.
The daughter of Herman and Lena Mueller
Doehring, Mary Ulmer was born in 1885.
As an eighteen year old bride of Martin Ulmer,
Mary set up housekeeping on the Ulmer homestead.
She has lived there ever since. The Ulmers had five
children: Aurora Peyer of Kewanee, Floyd of
Peoria, Ralph of Strasburg, Fawn Opal Benson of
Joliet, and Maurice, deceased. There are thirteen
grandchildren, and - fourteen great grandchildren
in the family. Mary is active in St. Paul's Lutheran
Ladies' Aid, and belongs to Home Extension.
Sophia Lenz was born of Henry and Augusta
Nippe Lenz near Strasburg on a farm in 1878.
There were six children in the family. When her
father died, Sophia and her mother remained on
the farm until 1935 when they moved into Stras-
In her youth, Sophia worked away from home
doing housework for others. Many in surrounding
towns preferred Strasburg girls for house help.
Sophia was an excellent seamstress, did beadwork,
punch work, crocheting, embroidery, and quilting.
Sophia cared for her mother until her death
in 1949 at the age of 93.
Presently Sophia is 95, and she resides at the
Born in Hebron, Nebraska, Iva Summers was
the daughter of John and Melinda White Young.
She is the only survivor of nine children.
Iva was wed in 1909 to David Allen Summers,
and they began housekeeping in Nebraska. After a
move to Indiana, in 1926 they settled in Paula,
III. where Mr. Summers operated a grain elevator
until 1960. He died in 1962.
Iva Summers had two duaghters: Ruby Grider
of Oklahoma, and Ruth Haskell, Strasburg. Since
1972 she has made her home near Strasburg with
her daughter Ruth. She has four grandchildren,
nine great grandchildren, and two great, great
She is active and enjoys attending Senior
Citizens in Strasburg.
Minnie Kasang, youngest child of John and
Henrietta Rosine Kasang, was born in 1883. She
attended Prairie Hall English School, and confir-
mation classes at St. Paul's in Strasburg. Her
mother was born in Germany. Her boat trip to
American took three months.
Minnie's father was also born in Germany. He
married Henrietta Rosine in Chicago and they
settled in Shelby County, buying land from the
Central Illinois Railroad. Their farm south of
Strasburg is where their daughter Minnie still lives.
Sophia Spannagel - taken in the 1940'
Sophia Spannagel's parents were Henry
Duensing and Wilhelmina Friese. Sophia was born
in Stewardson on December 26, 1877. There were
two boys and two girls in the Duensing family. In
1901, Sophia married Reuben Spannagel, and most
of their life they farmed.
They observed their 50th wedding anniversary
together. Since her husband's death, Sophia has
lived with her children.
Sophia's family consists of three children:
Pearl Kull, Strasburg, Emma Jerusalem of Chicago,
and Luella Hauer in Tennessee. There are two
grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, and two
great, great grandchildren in the family.
HENRY AND ROSETTA KULL
Henry Kull, eldest child of James and Lucinda
Weber Kull, was born in 1884 on a farm south of
Strasburg. There were eleven children in the Kull
Rosetta Staehli Kull was born of Swiss parents
in 1888 at Pioneer, Washington. There were five
children in the Staehli family. They came to the
Strasburg area in 1898.
Henry and Rose have three children, Ruby
Hudson of Mesa, Arizona, and Carl and Merl who
own a hardware store in Strasburg. There are seven
grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Wedding day for the Kulls was February 16,
1908. They were wed at the home of her parents
west of Strasburg. All thirty invited guests attended
in spite of three degrees below zero temperature
with ten inches of snow on top of two inches of
The Henry Kulls lived on the James Kull farm
for forty years. In 1949 they moved to Rose's
home place, and here they still reside.
The family is noted for several things, among
which are their musical abilities, Rose's excellent
cooking, and Henry's checker playing
Lizzie Giertz (1960)
C. A. Lichtenwalter and his wife, the former
Erma Sands, have raised seven children: Fern
Lankam of Indiana; Laurance, deceased; Inez Huff
of Clinton; Kenneth in Dallas, Texas; Charles in
Denver; Maxine Jenks of Indiana; and Norma Jean
Outhouse in Mattoon. There are twenty grand-
children and twenty-one great grandchildren.
Chester was born in 1885 near Brownstown.
His parents were John and America Pilcher
When about nineteen years old, he went into
the grocery store business with his brothers in
Westervelt. Later he was owner. During the
depression, the business failed, and Chester
remembers burning bushels of accounts and notes
that his customers couldn't pay. Chester has
farmed and has operated several different businesses.
He came to Strasburg in 1939, and purchased the
farm south of town that the Lichtenwalters still
live on. When he moved here, Chester brought with
him four milk cows, thirty head of pigs, four old
horses, and a "little" machinery.
Rose and Henry Kull as they celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary in 1958.
Lizzie Giertz was born in 1883 in Strasburg.
Charles Ostermeier was her father, and her mother
was an Altag. Lizzie's grandfather, Charles Oster-
meier, plotted the town of Strasburg, having given
the original forty acres to the town with one
provision - that the village be named Strasburg
after his own hometown of Strasburg, Germany.
Lizzie had three brothers and one sister.
In 1907 Lizzie married William Burkhart, a
Shelbyville farmer, but she was soon left a widow
wrth two baby girls, Mary and Bernadine. Her
second husband was Frank Giertz. To them were
born Herman and Frank, both of whom now live in
Arizona. Lizzie's family includes six grandchildren
and five great grandchildren.
Lizzie lived in Strasburg most of her life, and
helped countless families in the area with household
chores. She now resides in the Lakeland Nursing
home at Effingham.
Chester Lichtenwalter as a young man.
Addie Richards was the daughter of Ludlow
A. and Sophronia Jane Skidmore Gaston. She was
born in 1882 in Butler Co., Kansas. Her parents
returned to Illinois when she was three years old
and lived in the Mattoon and Windsor areas, and at
one time in the Lincoln Cabin. She was one of a
family of seven children.
In 1904 she married Joe Richards and since
1910 they lived near Whitlatch school, and that is
her old home. Her husband was killed by lightning
on May 20, 1925, while working in the field. For
twenty-seven years she worked for the E. R. Cooks
in Evanston. There are four children: Everett of
Farmer City, Earl of Blue Island, Helen Grove of
Shelbyville,and Laveta Helton of Effingham. There
are sixteen grandchildren and twenty-one great
grandchildren, and one great, great grandchild.
Addie recalls hearing how her father lit Aunt
Sarah Bush Lincoln's pipe many times. Her grand-
father was killed in the Civil War. Her father's two
brothers are buried in Shiloh Cemetery.
'Grow old along with me, The best is yet to be'
Town Board History and Records
It was recorded that the first town meeting
was held in the Town Hall in Strasburg in 1873,
however, earliest board minutes date from 1877.
On December 26, 1877, at a town election,
the following village trustees were elected: Charles
Ostermeier, Lawrence Zerr, J. J. Wilson, J. H.
Wiandt, A. F. Van Rheeden, and A. F. Allen. A. F.
Allen is on record later as president of the board.
First meeting was held at the schoolhouse, and
first business of this board included issuing liquor
licenses for $90.00 per year to Lawrence Zerr and
A. F. Van Rheeden.
In 1878 the "calaboose" was built at a cost of
529.39 with J. Wiandt in charge. In this same
year, Strasburg had employed J. N. Storm as
marshall, but he only lasted one day in his job.
He was dismissed because he was found to be
ineligible for the office. One project during this
year was installing sidewalks, to be made of hickory,
oak, and pine. Hitchracks were put up, and the
village dug ditches on both sides of Main Street
from the "public road" east to the railroad.
Roads were graded in October, 1883, and it
was decided to plant one shade tree on each lot of
the A. F. Van Rheeden addition. $110.00 was
allowed for the shade tree planting project. The
ordinance relating to sidewalks was amended so as
to read as follows: Sidewalks must be built of
sound oak or pine lumber not less than one inch
in thickness and sleepers to be two by four inches.
In February, 1886, six street lamps were pur-
chased for $34.75, and later in March, coal oil,
wicks, and globes for the street lamps were bought!
Strasburg cared for the needy by authorizing one
dollar to be paid for four meals for tramps. John
Ebmeier was paid $1.50 for one and one-half days
labor on sidewalks.
A committee was appointed to see about drill-
ing a public' well in July, 1890. It was also agreed
at this time that the cows of the village should be
kept up at night.
In 1890 the town board paid $28.00 for a
coffin made by C. Beery for a charity case.
A petition signed by forty-nine citizens was
presented in 1891 to appropriate $1000.00 to
School District No. 6 of Strasburg to help build a
schoolhouse if the district would turn over old
schoolhouse to village for a town hall. In this
same year A. F. Van Rheeden was granted a pool
hall license at $12.00 per year per table.
In 1892 and 1893 Beery 's plot of Strasburg
was accepted, also Louisa Van Rheeden's plot and
Clara A. Kircher's plot.
In 1900 it was decided to accept lawrence
Zerr's proposition to furnish bricks for sidewalks.
Labor on the walks was fixed at twelve and one-
half cents per hour, actual time put in, counting
nine hours per day. The President of the Board
appointed special police for July 4th. In this
same year J. C. Klump was marshall at $25.00 per
month, and Bert Beck was appointed night watch-
man at $5.00 monthly.
In 1906 a concrete walk was to be built on
the west side of town property.
Shooting on the streets on New Years Eve
and New Years Day was allowed in 1908.
In 1909 the charge for platform dances within
the city limits was $25.00 per day.
A motion was made in 1912 to provide a
watering trough at the well at the corner of the
A poll tax assessment for 1915 was fixed at
$1.50 each able bodied male over age of twenty-
one years, and under age fifty. This tax could be
worked out for seventeen and one-half cents an
hour for labor on streets and thirty cents an hour
for team labor.
Amusement places in town were closed in-
definitely on account of smallpox in 1915.
In 1916 came the first motion to apply oil
supplied by businessmen to the streets.
The bandstand was built in 1917.
In June 1923 there was $68.75 paid to Prairie
Electric Co. for lights.
8lot machines were declared a nuisance in
1927, and they were ordered taken out, as well as
other games of chance.
George Gill was paid $5.00 for plowing snow
in March, 1939. In 1944, Wm. Faster received
$25.00 for working on the Honor Roll.
Alleys were to be sprayed, and the board
declared a clean-up week in May, 1950. Taverns
were closed this year from 12 o'clock on 3aturday
night till 6 a.m. Monday. Donald Webner was
appointed health officer for 1951.
In 1961 there was a discussion on city water
and drilling test well. In 1970 a discussion was
held on the city sewage system.
Strasburg's population in 1970 census was
In 1971 the village gave a $3000.00 check to
the Strasburg Community Building.
Derry York requested annexation of his 80
acres into the village and the attorney drew up
papers in 1972. In this same year "3outh Burg"
These men have been Presidents of our village
from the year 1877: A. F. Allen, Amos York,
J. E-. Endicott, A. F. Van Rheeden, W. D. Fink,
J. F. Martin, J. N. 3torm, J. F. Ulmer, J. C. Renner,
Wm. 8pannagel, A. Figenbaum, S. A. $torm, F.W.
Risser, Henry Faster, Jr., John Bauer, Wm. Telg-
mann, C. C. Beck, Wm. W. Engel, August Metzler,
A. W. Young, O. A. Green (for twenty years),
Donald Webner (for sixteen years), H. A. Ulmer
and C. E. Buesking.
Present village board: (back row) Gerald Sporleader, Paul Juhnke, Robert Falk, Elmer Staehli, Darrell Cress.
(Front row) Gene Kull, C. E. Buesking, President, Floyd Weber.
As the need arose for certain goods or services,
some enterprising individuals would start a store or
shop to meet the demand. Over the years, numer-
ous businesses grew up or came into town, flourish-
ed for a while, and then passed into oblivion as
owners moved away, died, or went out of business,
or the demand for that particular product no longer
There were several industries that contributed
greatly to the life of the town before 1920.
Bernhard Milling Co. bought wheat, corn, oats,
and other grains, and manufactured and sold soft
and hard wheat flour, corn meal, and feed. It
was located in the old "red" mill that is now
painted aluminum colored.
In 1867 Wm. Telgman and his helper,
Lawrence Zerr, came to Shelby Co. and started a
brick yard and kiln. During the early years of the
town, they moved their operation from the country
to the tract of land now occupied by Webner
Elevator, and there they made and sold brick to
furnish the material for the construction of many
of the local brick buildings in the downtown area.
A couple of millinery shops provided
local ladies with the latest fashions in hats or
other wearing apparel, and were a means of liveli-
hood for the women who operated them. Some
of the proprietors were S. E. Seaman and Mrs. Anna
Jewelry shops sold and repaired watches and
many other fine pieces of jewelry. Patent medicines
and home remedies could also be bought there.
J. H. Seaman and J. A. Quicksall will be remember-
ed as having jewelry stores.
A weekly newspaper was published to carry
the accounts of births, deaths, marriages, and all
the other goings-on, as well as providing a means
for the merchants to advertise their wares. This
paper was started by J. A. Quicksall in the build-
ing across the alley from the bank.
There were usually no less than three general
stores in town that bought poultry, eggs, butter or
cream, and sold almost everything. Most items
arrived at the store in wooden barrels, and some
families shopped only once or twice a year buying
flour, sugar, or molasses by the barrel. Other items
that were sold in the bulk from the merchant's
barrel were cookies, crackers, and vinegar. These
stores also offered carpets, coal oil, stove pipes and
polish, clothing, boots and shoes, and anything that
was needed for the house or family. Some of the
early well-known general grocers were J. E. Weber
& Co., Chas. Beck, and Chris Kircher. These
merchants all operated huckster wagons in the
In the center of town, the Livery Barn offered
a young man a chance to rent a fancy buggy and
horse to "spark" his favorite girl, ora "drummer"
who arrived in town on the Wabash could get a rig
for transportation to call on prospective customers
in the countryside. Some school children from the
country who attended school in town would leave
their horses and buggies at the livery stable during
the day, and thus rid themselves of the chore of
unhitching and hitching up and feeding the animals
at noon. It was built in the 1890's by J. N. Poe.
The advent of the "horseless carriage" did away
with the need for such services, and the building is
now occupied by the Juhnke Feed Mill.
Just as tractors need a spring overhaul and
periodic maintenance, so the equipment for farm-
ing with horses also had to be kept in good condi-
tion. A harness shop stood for many years at the
east end of Commerical Street, where harnesses and
saddles were repaired, dipped, and made ready for
the spring farm work. Louis Figge operated and
owned this shop for many years.
In the winter there was also a crop to be
harvested. When the temperature dropped low
enough to freeze ice to a depth of several inches,
the ice was sawed into blocks, and hauled on sleds
or wagons to the two ice houses. There it was
packed in sawdust for insulation and stored away
to be used the next summer. Ice was harvested
from ponds in town and in the surrounding
countryside. Two grocery stores, Kircher and
Weber, had their own ice house in connection with
their poultry houses. Poultry of all kinds was
bought and here it was killed and dressed, packed
in barrels with layers of ice to preserve it, hauled
to the station, and shipped out on the train to the
large cities. One of these combination poultry-ice
houses was located in the building where Robert
Falk has his repair shop, and the other stood south
of the car wash. (In later years, Paul Rincker and
son Roy had a poultry house located in the east
block of Commercial Street, which was destroyed
by fire a couple of years after it was bought by
Wm. V. Juhnke & Sons.)
Another product that brought income to the
farmers was hay. Since there were no bailers
available on the farms, the hay was bought loose
and was hauled in to town where it was stored in
two hay barns that were built near the railroad
Here the hay was baled by a stationary bailer
located in the barn, and was loaded into railroad
cars and sold to out-of-town buyers. These barns
both burned. One grain and hay dealer was A W
There was once a thriving hotel business in
town. It is reported that the first building erected
(continued on page 21)
Farmers bringing in loose hay to be baled at Joe Falk's hay barn
Alvin Kearney, left, and Abe Young, right,
at Young's Elevator situated on present ball
park third base line. The railroad track is
in the background.
Bernhard's mill and elevator as it was first constructed in Planing mill of John Ebmeier at east end of Commercial
1883. This picture was taken by Dr. Risser. Street in 1910.
Richland Co-op Creamery Go's Plant. Manu-
facturers ot Sweet Clover brand creamery
butter, awarded first premium at Illinois
State Fair in 1905. John Ruff, president
Ed Klump, secretary and treasurer, and H. L.
Moore, butter maker.
Strasburg House, hotel on Commercial
Street, was located where the Beauty
Box is now. Pictured are Mr. Starner,
Ma Starner, Abe Young, Belle Young,
Callie Young, Grace Young, and George
Mr. Kircher and Martin Hamm, early businessmen in Original Weber Store Building. This structure was later
Strasburg. moved to the site east of the old town house.
Interior of J. E. Weber's Store in the early
1900's. Mr. Weber is pictured second from
the right. Albert Faster, on ladder, later
was fatally burned in an explosion in the
Abe Young and Alvin Kearney in Young's
Coal and Grain at the east end of Commer-
Bill Altag, George E. Kull, and Elmer York
in York's Clothing and Shoe Store located
above the present York's Cafe.
1898— Buying from Elmer York's huckster wagon, one mile
south of Hazen's Corner at route 16. Pictured are Cassie
Huffer, Francis Huffer, E. M. York, and Herrick Huffer.
Oannenberg Building, Nuff Ced Saloon, and building later
used by Engels.
Kircher and Beck's Store,
built from used materials
from the 1893 Chicago World's
Fair. Chris Kircher and Frank
Beck are shown to the right.
m jga '■
Chris Kircher's Store in 1914. Pictured are
Charlie Tendler and Martin Buesking.
Frank York, barber, and Rebe Hudson in
Strasburg's Barber Shop.
Garage built by Sep Swigart
and George E. Kull at the
corner of Commercial Street
and the main road, later to be
route 32. Overland cars are
Max Weber and Joe Schwarz atop a load of eggs, are
headed for the refrigerated car on which the eggs will
be shipped to New York or Boston. Old Renner is
pulling the dray wagon.
M. G. Ulmer in 1923 with tank truck.
Commercial Street in the 1930'i
(continued from page 14)
after the town was established was Allen's Hotel,
located where Max Weber's home now stands.
Across the street from the livery stable, at the
present site of the bank, a hotel provided a "home
away from home" for visitors or weary travelers.
Another well-known hotel, the Strasburg House,
familiarly known as Ma "Steiners," was located
about half a block east of there, next door to the
present home of Lena Weber, and it, too, furnished
food and lodging when it was needed. It is no
wonder that these establishments always seemed to
have plenty of business, as hotel bills then ran to
$1.00 a week.
Another such needed service was given by the
dray wagon that carried freight and mail from the
depot to the various stores or homes. Since all the
merchandise came to town on the train, there was
much demand for delivery wagons. C. E. Bingaman
operated one of these for a long time.
gallons of molasses were processed in one fall.
At one time a canning factory was built east
of the mill, and for a short time canned such items
as cereals, tomatoes, and other vegetables or fruits.
The raw products were bought by contract from
farmers, and processed here. A salesman also
traveled to sell the products. There is in existence
at least one can of oatmeal that was canned by this
factory while it was in operation.
There was much wooded area around Strasburg,
and also a need for lumber for putting up barns
and cribs. A sawmill run by Chas. Nippe was
located west of the home now owned and occupied
by the David Durbin family. Here logs were sawed
into boards and water tanks were also designed
A planing mill once occupied the Hobson
Garage and one was also in the building that had
been used for the engine factory.
Wagons and buggies were the only vehicles
available at one time, and some of them were made
in a shop that was built on stilts on the low area
just west of the post office. Louis Tendler built
and repaired wagons in this building. A red brick
building standing off the street near here was the
place where gasoline engines were made. Could be
a little competition arising there!
Many farmers in the vicinity had a small field
of cane, which was grown to provide molasses for
table use in the home and for livestock feed. When
the cane was mature, it was stripped of the leaves,
headed, cut, and hauled to the sorghum mill in the
north-east part of town, to be cooked down. At
the peak of the season, the workers had to work
long and hard hours, and it was reported that 2500
Before the Prohibition Era, the places where
liquor was sold were known as saloons. These
enjoyed a lively business and paid the village a sub-
stantial tax for the privilege. A. F. Van Rheeden
was one of the well-known early saloon keepers.
One of the early creameries was located north
of the Standard Oil tanks, and was operated by
Olinger and Bartlett. They bought cream from
farmers and made butter to be sold locally or
shipped to city markets. Most of the farm wives
kept their homes going on the butter and egg
money, and sometimes had a little extra for savings.
The building occupied by Burl Hobson was also
used as a creamery.
Shindigs and Sociables
The younger generation asks now, "What did
you do before television?" and "What did you do
In the "good old days" the people of Stras-
burg were always busy, but they did find time for
fun. One entertainment which attracted large
audiences in town was the medicine show. A troup
toured the countryside in wagons, stopping for an
evening or two in each small village. Sometime
during the night's performance, the "Medicine
show man" peddled his wares throughout the
crowd. Usually a ten ounce bottle of this cure-all
would cost one dollar. It was guaranteed to cure
almost every ailment known to mankind . . .
rheumatism, gout, corns, bunions, and woman's
ailments. The high alcoholic content of the
"medicine" may have contributed to its successes.
In later years, medicine shows came to town by
car, and they pitched their tent north of the
present ball diamond. Oldsters recall boxes of
Mrs. Risser and daughters Nita and Etta, go for a sleigh ride.
1894-Dr. Risser's office is at right, and his family's
living quarters are at left.
candy with a hidden valuable in one of the boxes.
The customer who purchased the lucky box got
the prize, but like most drawing contests, no one
ever seemed to get the big prize.
Occasionally a small circus would come to
town. A trained pony, a talented pig, or a trick
dog would be the featured performer for an
First community homecomings were held on
the Fourth of July, and these were big affairs. The
balloon ascension was a major attraction. A pit was
dug and a fire was built. The balloon material was
placed over the pit, and hot gases filled it. Finally
it was ready to ascend! The rider sat on a trapeze
under the balloon, the ropes were cut, and up he
went! After a short ride, the performer usually
jumped via parachute just after releasing the air
which allowed the balloon to descend to the
ground. Once the parachutist landed on the top of
what is now Renshaw's Store. This was quite a
thrill because all feared the flying fellow would
land on the hard roof. Traffic was stopped, all
eyes looked upward, and everyone breathed a sigh
of relief when the parachutist landed safely on the
During the twenties as airplanes became more
common, barnstorming planes would land in near-
by fields and charge for riders in the new-fangled
Many remember Frank Hoese's act at a July
Fourth celebration. He walked the high wire
across Commercial Street. The wire was from an
upper window in Weber's Store to a restaurant
building across the way.
Strasburg had band concerts for years. Every
Thursday evening the band played at the round
bandstand which stood west of the present Com-
Around 1917-1918 the Metzler brothers ran a
movie house on the east side of Commercial Street.
It was open three or four times a week. A long
movie and a serial, perhaps one starring Pearl White,
would be shown. A local girl would be at the piano,
playing appropriate musical accompaniment for
villains and heroes of the evening's show. With the
advent of "talkies", the movie house discontinued
business. Later local merchants donated money
and free shows were presented on the streets to
citizens. This entertainment was continued until
For the more educationally minded a chance
to attend a chatauqua was offered. Plays and
speakers were the main feature of this event. It was
held in a tent on the site of the present ballpark.
Lyceum courses were also presented in town. A
two dollar season ticket would be good for several
programs featuring famous performers.
Strasburg has always been a ball town. Even
in the early 1900's the town boasted a traveling
team which won many games. Emert Weber,
Roscoe Renshaw, Fred Doehring, Martin Mueller,
and Bert Wiandt were some of Strasburg's ball-
players. Rural as well as town diamonds were the
scene of many Sunday games. There were no
lights, so games were played during the heat of the
day. Owners of the ball diamonds often set up
lemonade stands at the scene, and made a little
money on the side.
Strasburgians ice skated in the winter and roller
(continued on page 24)
A snowball fight in 1909 north of the
public school building.
Strasburg Ball Team, back row: Edmond Diepholz, Fred Nippe, Fred Doeding, Theo. Von
Behren. Middle row: Charlie Ostermeier, Arnold Diepholz, August Doeding, Martin
Mueller. Bottom row: Roscoe Renshaw, Herman Diepholz.
1950 Girl's Softball Team sporting new uniforms. Back row: Manager Os Hood, Rose Von Behren, Neva Buesking, Alice
Daniels, Retha Buesking, Grace Spannagel, Rosemary Schultz. Front row: Lill Wittenberg, Bertha Blythe, Emily Mulvaney,
Jeanne Schultz, Lela Mulvaney, Nancy Boyer. Not pictured: Dorothy Reel, Doris Reel, and Marilyn Brehmer.
(continued from page 22)
skated in the summer. The Old Mill Pond was a
favorite meeting place for ice skating. For several
years, a roller rink run by Gay York was located
just west of the present York's Cafe.
Other recreational activities in Strasburg s
early history included a race track, pool rooms,
and a bowling alley. The bowling alley, located in
the J. J. Kull Building that Roger Rentfro owns
now, was a thriving business during World War I.
At one time the alley was in the upstairs of the
building, and for some years it was in operation on
the ground floor of the structure. Babe Storm is
reported to be the first owner. Ben Kull also ran
the bowling alley, and Dan Noffke was the last
alley operator in town.
Early town records indicate that platform
dances were held in town. Permits were issued,
and platforms were built on which dancers danced
to the tunes of local fiddlers. In the surrounding
territory, farmers held barn dances in their empty
haylofts during the summer months. In later years,
town halls, above where Rentfro's Recreation
Center is now and Renshaw's Store stands, were
used for dances.
Strasburg, like other communities, had Com-
munity Clubs which met in local schoolhouses.
Some participants gave readings; others sang or
played instruments, and the more ambitious pre-
sented three-act plays at these programs. Pie and
box suppers were held also. The local swains bid
against each other, and the highest bidder got to
eat with the girl who had brought the box or pie.
Despite all the "fun", people of early Stras-
burg never forgot their churches, and it was a rare
family who did not dress up on Sunday morning
to attend local services or load up the wagon and
surries to attend a nearby revival meeting.
In 1974 the citizens of Strasburg must go
elsewhere to seek the help of a doctor, but this
has not always been the case. Births, toothaches,
backaches, cases of grippe, appendicitis, bursitis,
influenza, injuries, and childhood diseases — all
were cases for the respected community doctor —
the doctor who made house calls — the gentleman
with the little black bag. This dedicated servant of
people who gave our forefathers hope and relief
in times of pain and sickness - this type of doctor
is forever gone.
At least three doctors spent years in our village
— namely, Dr. Amos York, Dr. Fred Risser, and
Dr. Fred Schroeder.
Born and raised on a farm near Tuscola, Dr.
Dr. Amos York
Dr. York at his office which was located north of where
Youngscraft Mfg. Co. is on Commercial Street. This
picture was taken by Dr. Risser around 1900.
York came to Strasburg after a colleague of his
who was about to set up practice in Shumway,
highly recommended Strasburg as a place to hang
out his shingle. Dr. York's friend wrote in June,
1875, "The country around Strasburg is rolling -
good roads and plenty of them. There is a very
heavy settlement - good houses - well improved
farms and in small tracts. The town has four stores,
one schoolhouse, no doctor, but has a large
territory I think it a number one location
for a fellow that wanted to get into a practice
soon and think you could not do much better."
Dr. York took his friend's advice and came
to Strasburg immediately, sending for his family
later. He doctored here til 1909.
An excerpt from his diary indicates that he
first stayed at Ma Starner's Hotel, paying $1.00 a
week. On one occasion, when Ma Starner was called
as midwife and her husband was sick, she asked the
doctor to stay with the sick man while she was
away. He agreed to do so for the $8.00 fee she
was beating him out of. As it turned out, neither
she nor the doctor collected any fee.
After his family arrived, Dr. York's office
and home was just north of the brick building
where the Dale Young Mfg. Co. is now located.
Dr. York has three grandchildren still in
Strasburg: Mildred Hash, Dale York, and Aurora
Dr. and Mrs. Fred Risser - 1918.
Dr. Fred W. Risser was born in Troy, Illinois,
where his father was a merchant. At the age of 16
he passed the examination to teach school and
taught for four years, all the while studying
medicine during his vacations. In the fall of 1882
he entered Barnes Medical School in St. Louis,
where he graduated in 1886. When looking for a
suitable place to start practicing, he was charmed
by the countryside in and around Strasburg, and so
took up his residence here. His office was first
built on a small corner plot in South Strasburg,
just north of the St. Paul's teacherage and across
the street from the old Ferdinand Kull Store. He
married Mary Doehring, a local young lady, and
then bought a large plot of ground farther uptown.
The building was moved to this location and served
as office and home, for the family for ten years,
until the familiar brick house, "The Risser Home",
was built south of it in 1896. The frame building
continued to serve as office and drug room for as
long as he practiced medicine.
Dr. Risser was a scholarly man, interested in
many other topics besides his medicine. During
the fifty-one years he practiced in Strasburg, many
changes took place and the good doctor was always
"in on" things. Before phone service was installed
in town, Dr. Risser helped put in a telegraph line
from his own home to the Schroeder house in
South Strasburg and they could communicate by
Morse Code. The first telephone switchboard was
operated by Dr. Risser's daughters, Etta and Rosa,
in their home.
Dr. Risser kept colonies of bees, did crochet-
ing and knitting, could sew a fine seam, and was a
professional photographer. Many families still own
their forefathers' studio portraits made by "Risser
Members of the Risser family sometimes
accompanied the doctor on his visits to patients
throughout the countryside. At first Dr. Risser
traveled in his horse drawn buggy; later he drove
a touring car to the homes of the sick.
During the flu epidemic of 1917-1918, Drs.
Risser, Schroeder, and Knowles made "rounds",
and they would treat each other's patients if they
happened to be in the neighborhood. The doctors
were sorely overworked, and there were very few
homes where someone was not suffering.
A special service at St. Paul's Church honored
Dr. Risser on the occasion of the 50th anniversary
in his medical profession. The following year his
sudden death shocked the community.
Etta and Rosa, daughters of Dr. F. Risser,
prepared their family home and opened it to those
who needed love and care. Their first patient
came in 1938. Working with Dr. Schroeder and
neighboring doctors, they cared for bed-patients.
Babies were born in the Risser Home, and minor
surgery was performed there over a period of
Dr. and Mrs. Fred Schroeder. Dr. Schroeder was Strasburg's
Dr. Fred Schroeder, a native of Strasburg, was
born in 1883, and he lived most of his life in the
family home in South Strasburg. He attended the
theological seminary in Springfield, but he always
had a desire to be a doctor. He realized his boy-
hood ambition when he graduated from Barnes
Medical School in St. Louis. In 1911 he married
Dr. Risser's daughter Nita, and set up practice in
Sigel. After about a year they moved back to
Strasburg, where he built an office on the corner
of Main and Commercial Streets. This building is
still standing, but it was moved east when the fill-
ing station was erected. Many patients were cared
for here, and much medicine was dispensed, and the
doctors of this time mixed many of their remedies
from powders and liquids and they always had
quite an assortment of pills on hand.
Dr. Schroeder was also a surgeon, and he per-
formed surgery in his office and in the Risser
Home, as well as in area hospitals.
Woodworking was Dr. Schroeder's hobby.
He worked at home refinishing furniture and
making cabinets and chests for himself and his
Dr. Schroeder was known in the village as
quite a talker and many ex-patients can relate tales
that were told by the good doctor. One of his
stories is of a local lady who called for his services.
When he asked where she lived, she replied, "On
this side of the railroad track." We don't know if
the doctor found her residence or not by that
Dr. Schroeder continued to serve the sick of
the community until his own health failed. In 1966,
at age 83, he passed away in the home of his
Dr. D. L. Robey, physician and surgeon from
Virginia, is listed as Strasburg's first doctor, but no
records can be found of his service here. He had
moved elsewhere by 1875.
Other doctors, some dentists, and chiroprac-
tors were in Strasburg for relatively short periods
of time. Drs. Stephens, Brunk, Knowles, Chase,
Adams, Burlington, and Eli York all served the
distressed of the community.
Post Office History
The Strasburg Post Office was established on
February 11, 1874, under the name of Strasburgh,
but the name was changed to its present spelling
on July 13, 1893.
The office of postmaster was held by several
citizens in Strasburg's early history. Some were in
office for only a few months, and one, for
instance, held the position for two weeks. During
the first ten years of the town's existence there
were eleven appointments. The first postmaster
on record was Frank M. Beck.
When Lawrence Zerr took time out from his
brickmaking to take the position of postmaster in
1875, he moved the post office to the south edge of
town, known as "South Burg," where several
businesses soon sprang up. The early location of
the post office that most oldsters recall was in the
south-east corner of the Weber Store Building.
When this frame building was replaced by the
present brick structure on that site, the post office
was moved to a location across the street near the
east end of the block. Later, it was moved to the
Since the early postmasters held their offices
by political appointment, their jobs were subject to
the outcome of the national elections. As the
occupant in the White House changed, so did the
postmaster. The Faster family holds the record for
having served in this office for the greatest number
of years. Henry Faster, Sr. was appointed in 1883
and held the office until Grover Cleveland was
elected, and a Democrat took over. In 1889 he
again received the appointment and served while
Benjamin Harrison was President. Cleveland was
again elected and Faster was out for four years, but
was in again and served until his death in 1910. His
son, William Faster, was appointed at this time,
and he held the office until 1934 when Franklin
D. Roosevelt was President. Etta Risser helped in
the post office for many years. At this time
George E. Kull was appointed, and he served until
his retirement in 1957. His wife Aurora assisted in
the office. During Mr. Kull's years in the post
office, Strasburg's office attained a third class
status, due in part to the large shipments of baby
chicks from the hatcheries. Sales of War Bonds also
hit a record, equalling that of Shelbyville. At his
retirement, the present postmaster, Lowell T.
Green, was given charge in 1957, and was appointed
in 1959. Elsie Nippe served as clerk for many
years under both George E. Kull and Lowell Green,
until she retired. Maurine Hobson worked there in
later years, and at present Audrey Falk has that
The mail arrived twice daily on the train as
long as the Wabash was in service. When it was
discontinued, the mail was brought into town by
truck. Homer Her performed this service for many
years. At one time, there was also the Highway
Postoffice, a van which traveled from Vincennes,
Indiana to Springfield, Illinois. It came through
Strasburg for a few years. It carried two postal
clerks who picked up, sorted, and delivered mail
along the route.
The Strasburg Post Office gained nation-wide
attention when a gang of gunmen came into town
early one morning, before daybreak, in 1930. One
of the men, Cecil Wright, a parolee from a state
prison, was convicted of breaking into the Stras-
burg Post Office and stealing a small amount of
change (forty-three cents) from the rural carrier's
desk. For this theft of government property,
Wright served a lengthy sentence in Alcatraz. He
studied the rudiments of law while in prison and,
pleading his own case on the basis of "habeas
corpus", had himself released in 1943 for a new
In 1903 the Rural Free Delivery began to
bring the mail to farm homes and established a new
way of life for country dwellers. Instead of having to
make a trip to town once to twice a week to pick
up the mail, a rural carrier now covered a specified
route every day to deliver and pick up the mail at
each mailbox which was generally located right at
the front gate.
At first there were three rural routes serving
the Strasburg area. Route No. 1 was covered by
Chas. Renshaw, who went mostly into Richland
Township. Dan Ruff was given Route No. 2, going
south and east of town. He carried the mail for
thirty years, retiring in 1933. John Ruff had been
appointed to carry mail on Route No. 3, known as
the Rockford Route but he died before starting
work. Joe Kull carried this route for a while, as did
Warren Storm, but it was later discontinued, and
the territory was given to the two remaining
carriers, Mr. Ruff and Mr. Renshaw.
Country roads were not very dependable
when winter snows and spring rains made them
almost impassable, and automobiles were not avail-
able in the early 1900's, so the horse and buggy had
to be used by the carriers. At times the conditions
were so bad that the mail had to be delivered by
horseback or on foot. Substitute carriers helped
out during these times, and in cases of sickness or
when the carrier was on vacation. Some of the
substitute carriers were Charles Ruff, Bill Renshaw,
who later became a regular carrier, John Whitacre,
Glen Renshaw, and Otto Wirth. Mr. Wirth carried
mail as substitute for thirty-three years, from 1927
until 1960. After Dan Ruff retired, the two routes
were made into a single one, and Roscoe Renshaw
carried this for many years until he retired. The
present rural mail carrier is Chas. Jr. Rosine, and
his substitute is Clinton Weber. With the country
roads being greatly improved, the carrier now
covers a daily route of about sixty-six miles with
The Presses Roll
In 1889 J. A. Quicksall issued the first copy of
the Strasburg Herald. From a small print shop with
a hand press, he edited 50 copies at first. Soon
more than 200 copies were being printed weekly.
Editor Quicksall soon had the largest subscription
list for a weekly paper in Shelby County. Merchants
and businessmen for twenty miles around advertised
in the thriving Strasburg Herald. With the work
piling up, Quicksall enlisted the help of his wife;
and he eventually employed William Hellman,then
a boy, to do the mass of work that came to the
office. Later, a cylinder press and a gasoline engine
speeded up the work.
William Hellman was called to the colors in
World War I, and other help was found in 1917.
When Hellman came back from the war, he pur-
chased the Herald and operated the printing shop
successfully for many years. Ill health forced him
to sell. In 1930 the Herald sold to J. Edwin Hoyer
of the Stewardson Clipper. Ownership of the
paper passed through many hands until Frank
Trainer took over the Herald in December of
1932. Later Trainer, due to his wife's illness and
also to his advancing age, sold the entire shop to
Leon Murray of Pana in December, 1936. For
three years Murray printed the Herald. The sub-
scription rate during this period was $1.25 per
year. In 1942 rates were raised to $1.50 yearly.
P. G. Kaase was next editor, until 1943 when
George Dunscomb of Windsor purchased the paper,
and it was printed under the editorship of Theodore
McDonald. The last issue of the Herald was printed
December 29, 1943.
A few items of interest from the Strasburg
May 16, 1916-from J. H. Wiandt's ad:
coffee-2 lbs. for 25#
vinegar— gallon for 15#
mustard, in pint milk bottles-8^
Pork and beans-40 and 8#
7 lb. box crackers-54#
cookies, per lb. -12#
May 6. 1920-
A new boiler has been installed in the engine
room of the Strasburg Creamery this week.
From an ad: G. M. York has extra pair pant
suits for $45.00
Wm. W. Engel tells us that he received a car-
load of Samson tractors today and can make
August 18, 1921 -from a column titled "Motor
York and Green have recently sold a new Ford
touring car to Jack Griffin, the Big Four section
foreman at Windsor, and another to Edgar A.
Mitchell of near Gays.
Henry Faster, Jr. cashier of the Strasburg
State Bank, drives a new Haynes touring car having
traded his Chandler in on the new car at Decatur
May 18, 1922-from a Bernhard Milling Co. ad:
New flour prices:
Diamond 48 - $1.85
Perfection 49 - $1.80
Fine chick feed 100 - $1.90
Wm. Pikesh shipped six carloads of corn fed
steers to the Chicago Market Tuesday. Mr. Pikesh
and Chris Lading accompanied the shipment. It was
one of the finest shipments ever sent to market
from our city.
June 1. 1922-
Memorial Day services were held at Grace and
St. Paul's Cemeterys. The Strasburg Band made
their first appearance in their new uniforms.
H. J. Allen set up his merry-go-round in town.
Everyone is invited to join in the hobo masquerade.
At a public sale of Mrs. Firebaugh of Windsor,
Pete Buesking, auctioneer, sold a mare for $90.00.
The animal is about 20 years old, and Pete said he
sold the same mare 10 years ago for $90.00. Age
has made no perceptible change in the value of this
animal, and considering the age, she was well sold.
Wanted: Milk customers, 50 a quart.
Wm. Mueller, Jr.
The Herald is the only 8 page paper in Shelby
County for $1.00 a year.
Recently a businessman from Mattoon visited
Strasburg, and after driving over the town, said,
"Strasburg has the best kept residence of any town
I've ever seen. The houses are painted, the lawns
are kept neat, and the streets are in fine shape."
This is something to be proud of since it comes
from a stranger.
The Wabash ran an extra Tuesday from
Stewardson to deliver 9 cars of hogs for Floyd
Tonight Strasburg will have the privilege of
seeing a free talkie-movie show at the Storm Hall.
It is free for everybody and will consist of over a
mile of fine film.
April 10, 1936-
The Biehler Hatchery is turning out chicks at
the rate of 28,000 weekly with two large incubators.
July 21, 1938-
G. C. York advertised: Stanolind gas-15#/gal.
March 9, 1939-
Strasburg well strikes pool of oil 4 miles south
of Strasburg along the Wabash right of way.
Pancake and Sausage Supper 300— adults, 150
-children. Serving starts at 6 p.m. at Duling High
School Gym by Richland Home Bureau. February
May 7, 1942-
A column titled, "With Our Boys in Camp",
gives addresses of 27 Strasburg service men.
Number, Please - The Telephone Story
Prior to the 1900's, there was no telephone
system in Strasburg, but three ingenious citizens
had a special way. of communicating with each
other - they had a telegraph line. Dr. Risser,
G. Schroeder, and Henry Faster, Sr. had rigged up a
telegraph line between their homes, and they had a
code worked out which they used.
Other people in town needed to talk with each
other and in 1900 Dr. Risser organized the first
telephone system for Strasburg and surrounding
areas. One party line, number 41, consisting of
sixteen phones was installed from the Risser home
south and east into the country. Dr. Risser was
owner of the first phone, and he originated the calls
consisting of short and long rings. The sixteen on
this first line were: Wm. Schroeder, George Blythe,
Henry Diepholz, Jr., H. C. Doehring, Adolph Kirn!
Wm. Von Behren, Fred Doehring, August Doehring,
Louis Mueller, Henry Wirth, Henry Buesking, Sr.,
Henry Diepholz, Sr., E. Johnson, Cliff Brackin, and
More citizens got telephones and more lines
were built. Some private lines were installed.
Early telephones used wet batteries. They
hung on the wall and the user turned a crank to
Dr. York helped Dr. Risser in maintaining the
telephone system. The first switchboard was in
Dr. Risser's home. Later the switchboard was set
up in the Jasper Curry home on the corner where
O. O. Kull's home now. stands. Lily Davidson ran
the switchboard, and Ed Wingate had a store in the
building. Here the switchboard remained until it
was moved to a building on the southeast corner of
T. A. Weber's lot, where it stood until 1924. The
central office was then moved east across the alley
where it was used until 1964 when the new dial
system went into use.
In 1906 the local phone company was in-
corporated and became known as the Strasburg
Mutual Telephone Company. Capitol stock was
$10,000. First directors were: Michael Weber,
John Ruff, Henry Spannagel, Ed Klump, John
Jackson, J. F. Kull, Dr. Risser, Dr. York, and H.
No. 1 share was issued to J. F. Kull in
1906. President was J. F. Kull and Wm. Engel was
secretary. Cost was $20.00 a share.
Twenty-five telephone lines were extended
throughout the community in following years.
From three to seventeen phones were on each line.
Each party line had its own officers; a president,
secretary, treasurer, three directors, and a lineman;
and was responsible for its own upkeep. Dues
ranged from $2.00 to $15.00 throughout the years.
Phone service for Strasburg began at 5 a.m.
and ended at 9 p.m. except for emergency.
If a phone user needed to know about a fire,
for whom the bell tolled, the time of the day, a
message left by someone who had tried to call or
any special announcements, central was called.
Only in rare cases did central not have the answers
needed. Area citizens still miss this "personal help"
that the modern dial phone system just can't pro-
Early managers and operators include Fred
Lading, Ray Wiandt, Mary Green, Alice Eakin,
Peggy Eakin, Carrie Bodine, Tillie Thies, Freida
Harmon, Ruth Tate, Frank Giertz, Mamie Hirtzel,
and Maurine Hobson. Fred Andes, Walt Andes, and
Ida Ruwe worked for many years in the telephone
Times changed, and so did the telephone
system of Strasburg. In 1960 negotiations were
begun to sell to the Illinois Consolidated Telephone
Company. After many meetings, this was accom-
plished. A new telephone office was built on east
Main Street where the Charles Beck store was once
located. On December 16, 1964, at 9:01 a.m.
telephone service was cut over to dial operation.
Strasburg users had free service to Windsor and
Stewardson and they could call Shelbyville by
dialing "7". Later free service was extended to
these Shelbyville calls. In 1969 users could direct
dial all long distance calls.
As of 1964 there were 471 stocks in force in
the Mutual Telephone Company. Phones in use for
all or part of the year numbered 360.
In 1966 the Strasburg Mutual Telephone
Company was dissolved by the shareholders. So
ended the community phone system which had
served Strasburg since 1900.
In the early years of Strasburg's history, local
citizens drove to Shelbyville over muddy roads,
then called Fraker Flats, if they wanted to do
Among the first businessmen unhappy about
the situation was Martin Hamm who complained
to Judge Thornton that it was hard to make the
twelve mile trip when necessary. The judge
suggested that Strasburg organize their own bank.
With the help of some Shelbyville citizens, they did
in the year of 1902. First officers were: W. E.
Walker, president, T. R. Dove, vice-president, and
Henry Faster, cashier (who up to this time was
A few years later, some Shelbyville business-
men tried to charter another bank in Strasburg,
but the plan was dropped.
In 1932 during the depression many banks
were forced to close, but due to the efforts of the
directors, Strasburg Bank remained open and in
business. The community has always been proud
Only once was the bank threatened with
robbery. About the year 1910, someone tried to
blow the vault open with nitroglycerin. For some
reason they failed. Ben Bingaman, the night-
watchman, heard nothing. Later it was learned that
a hand-car was gone from the local depot which had
been broken into. The hand-car was later found at
Windsor. Theory was that the would-be robbers
took the hand-car to Windsor, then hopped a big
four freight train.
Strasburg's first bank was located in the
building which was torn down where the Com-
munity Building now stands. The building was
then shared with J. A. Quicksall, jeweler and
druggist. Later in 1915, a hotel was razed and the
present bank building was constructed. In 1917 it
became The Strasburg State Bank, having a federal
guarantee for savings.
The new bank was first heated by a hand-fired
coal stove which was just east of the vault. Later a
coal furnace was bought for the basement; then
this was converted to oil and finally, to city gas.
Original radiators are still in use.
The original wall clock still is in use in the
bank. Many remember the stuffed loon bird that
used to sit "eyeing" bank customers. Edwin H.
Faster had shot the bird at Henne's Pond, and the
stuffed loon sat on top of the bank vault for years
In 1968 William B. Cannon of Decatur bought
controlling interest in the bank, and in 1969 a
complete remodeling job was done.
The following are previous bank presidents:
James F. Kull, 1917-1940; J. E.Weber, 1940-1962;
and Max Weber, 1963-1968. Henry Faster was bank
cashier for twenty-six years, from 1917-1943.
Ruby Templeton and Joe Kull have also been
cashiers. Former employees include: Edwin Faster,
Eva Falk, Geneva Kull, Frieda Hughes, Paul Man-
hart, and Sandra Rincker.
Some past bank directors are: Martin Hamm,
Lauren Hamm, G. B. Ulmer, G. C. York, Ruby
Templeton, James Kull, Henry Kull, Alvin Kearney,
J. E. Weber, Max Weber, and Joe Kull. Present
directors are Wm. Cannon, Harry Cannon, Arthur
Stiedley, Lowell Green, Floyd Weber, and Roy
Serving the community at the Strasburg Bank
now are: Roy Rincker, Nita Vogel, Linda Cress,
and Evelyn Augenstine.
Long ago when death entered a home, friends
relatives, and neighbors came to be of assistance.
Someone would "lay" out the body in preparation
for burial. This was done at the home since it is
doubtful that there was an undertaker here 100
years ago. The clock in the home would be
stopped at the hour of death and started again
after the funeral. The church bell would ring and
toll the number of years of the deceased's life.
Ladies would get dark clothes ready for the
mourning family to wear at the funeral. A black
crepe band was placed around men's hats or worn
on one arm, and black veils were worn by the
ladies of the family.
Some remember Chris Beery who made caskets.
His farm home was directly north-west of Strasburg
on the west side of the highway. Caskets were
made according to the size of the person, and were
smaller at one end. Beery may have assisted with
burials before the community had an undertaker.
Since the bodies were kept at home until
the funeral, there was a "wake" overnight by
family and friends. The rooms were kept as cool
as possible since there was no embalming done, and
no screens for windows. Food brought in by
others was served at the wake. This was a quiet
time with the entire household "hushed".
A black crepe wreathe was placed at the door
where death had entered. In later years, artificial
flowers were used at the door, and this custom is
still observed if the body is brought home for
Caskets were taken by horsedrawn wagon or
spring wagon for services and burial. Then came
the black hearse drawn by two black horses with
plumes or some ornament on their bridles. If
roads were too bad, an extra team of horses was
First horse-drawn hearse used by John Pfeiffer, Sr.
On the burial day there would be a short
service in the home, a slow moving procession to
the church, and a church service with hymns and
sermon. Sometimes the entire funeral was in the
home. As the funeral procession moved along the
roads, all vehicles they met stopped and the men
would remove their hats, waiting until the pro-
cession passed by. The driver of the horse-drawn
hearse remained on the hearse during the service,
regardless of weather. The hearse was kept covered
in the livery barn. The team of black horses were
stabled there also.
Funerals were largely attended, especially the
church services. Extra chairs were placed, and even
then people had to stand. If a businessman died,
other places of business closed during services.
At the cemetery there was a rough box, made
of wood, in which the casket was placed. Boards
were laid across the top of the rough box. Relatives
and friends assembled at the cemetery for a prayer
and hymn. As the pastor said the words, "Earth to
earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes", three handfuls
of dirt would be thrown on the rough box. In
later years, flower petals were used. Burial depth
used to be six feet, now it's about four feet.
Taking part in the funerals would be the
flower girls, and the black gloved pall bearers.
After leaving the cemetery, relatives would go
to the home of the deceased to visit with family
members from a distance.
It's doubtful that many flowers were used at
funerals 100 years ago, especially in winter. Wild
flowers or garden flowers in season were used, and
some remember artificial flowers being used. In
recent years greenhouse flowers are used so lavishly
that families sometimes request memorials instead.
The first undertaker to be remembered is
John C. Pfeiffer, Sr. Later his son Martin took an
embalming course and he was in partnership with
his father until his father died in 1930.
John Pfeiffer, Sr., Strasburg Undertaker - 1915.
In 1936 Martin Pfeiffer built a brick home in
the south-western part of town. This was Stras-
burg's first funeral home. Now the bodies were
brought here for embalming. Later families held
visitations here before the church service.
When Martin Pfeiffer retired in 1958, George
Moeller of Springfield took over the funeral busi-
ness. He purchased the two story house southeast
of Grace Church, and this became Strasburg's
In 1962 Moeller moved to St. Elmo to be
undertaker there, and he was succeeded here by
Kessler-Howe, funeral directors of Shelbyville. Roy
Rincker purchased the funeral home and this house
is presently used for visitations and funerals.
James Yockey purchased the Kessler share of
the business in 1970, and it became Howe- Yockey
Funeral Directors. Monte Howe died in 1970, but
his widow remains in the business, and the Stras-
burg area continues to be served by Howe and
Yockey Funeral Directors.
And Here They Lie
As the early settlers of the territory in and
around Strasburg organized churches, began schools,
and opened businesses; so did they, of necessity,
Wade Cemetery, a tiny corner of land two
miles north, and two and one-half miles west of
Strasburg, is on ground now owned by Ralph Reel.
Five stones are still here; three of which are
Revolutionary War soldiers. The oldest stone marks
the 1830 gravesite of John Jenkins, Pvt. of Light
Dragoons of Virginia. This is probably Shelby
County's smallest cemetery.
North of Strasburg and east of Elmer Richard's
house is Lookout Cemetery. There are nearly
forty stones remaining here on a knoll under three
oak trees. Most stones date 1830's through the
1850's. Family names appearing on stones include
Webb, Young, Poe, Parks, and Crockett. Several
veterans are buried here, among them Abner Poe,
a Black Hawk War veteran.
The Rockford Cemetery, known formerly as
the Welton Cemetery, is one mile south and four
miles west of Strasburg on the farm of Conn Fox.
The oldest stone here is probably that of Jesse
Welton who died in 1842. This cemetery is still
Two miles north of Strasburg and three-
fourths mile west is the Richland Cemetery. The
oldest tombstone here is dated October, 1819.
Two veterans of the War of 1812 are buried here;
and twenty-one Civil War veterans' graves can be
found. Area families still bury at Richland.
Once called the Keller Cemetery, Lower Ash
Grove Cemetery is next to the Lower Ash Grove
Church about three miles east of Strasburg. This
land was originally Illinois Central land. Later the
Lenzes sold the plot to John Blythe to be used for
burial grounds. The oldest part of the cemetery is
next to the church with the date 1838 on one
stone, that of Joseph Noland.
Gaskill Cemetery is at the Gaskill Church or
"Brick Church" site east of Strasburg. Both church
and cemetery date to 1869 and are still being used.
The moss-covered brick tomb here is the resting
place for Allen Gaskill and his family.
The first St. Paul's Cemetery was on a small
plot one and one-fourth miles south of Strasburg.
It is thought that six graves of the early 1860's
are here, although the tombstones have all disap-
peared. The church's burial grounds were moved
to a four acre hillsite south and west of town.
First graves here were arranged in rows in the order
of death; after 1913 lots were laid out and now
families are burried together. A message to passers-
by on one stone reads:
"Dear Friends, as you go by,
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now, so you'll be.
Prepare for death and follow me."
On some of the earlier stones there are Bible
verses written in German.
Grace Cemetery is at the west edge of Stras-
burg on the Fred Hasemeier ground. Stones here
date from 1897. In the center circle are buried two
pastors: Rev. A. T. Bonnet who died in 1917, and
Rev. G. A. Schimmel who died in 1937. The stone
of Dr. Amos York, Strasburg's first doctor, is
found in the north-east part of this cemetery.
In recent years, Memorial Day services have
been observed at Grace Cemetery with the high
school band marching and the American Legion
conducting the programs.
Two other cemeteries area people visit are the
Swede Lutheran Cemetery two miles south and
nearly four miles east of Strasburg, and the Spain
Cemetery south of Kingman on the Art Boldt farm
now owned by Elmer Tabbert. Both are still in use.
Hundreds of persons from the earliest settlers
to our contemporaries lie near us in quiet repose,
and the history of Strasburg marches on.
The Wabash Railroad
Until a town could boast of a railroad, there
was little chance of its prospering. The future
Strasburg was an isolated rural community in the
1870's. Wagons hauled goods to the "Country
Store" operated by Charles Ostermeier. About
every two months the wagoners loaded up supplies
at the Windsor Depot and brought back calico,
dishes, boots, and whiskey which had been "rail-
(continued on page 33)
Wabash Depot and A. W. Young's Grain Elevator. Depot stood where current park rest-
I been workin' on the railroad.
Unloading sacks of flour at Strasburg.
(continued from page 31)
roaded in" from St. Louis. Although Windsor was
only seven miles "as the crow flies," the trip was
often a two-day affair. Therefore, the residents of
the proposed Strasburg were indeed happy when
they heard that the Chicago and Paducah railroad
were "comin' to town". Immediately plans were
made to plat a village of forty acres of land sur-
rounding Ostermeier's Store. The town dreamers
were doomed to disappointment, however. The
C & P Railroad failed during the Panic of the 70's.
The railroad that was destined to serve Stras-
burg was built around 1874 and was constructed as
a junction line from Decatur, Illinois. It was called
the Wabash. The freight hauled from the north to
the south in the morning, and reversed its route in
the afternoon. Passenger trains came through town
from the south in the morning, and returned from
the north in the evening. The terminals of these
runs were changed occasionally.
Until 1880 Strasburg was only a freight stop,
and the depot was a small shed near where
Schlechte's Lumber Yard now stands. Farmers
would drive their cattle and hogs to town to sell to
the stockyard, which was built near the railroad.
About three times a year branded horses from the
West were brought into town to be auctioned to the
highest bidders. These came by way of rail. Cream,
poultry (both live and dressed), eggs, and grain
were all shipped to distant spots on the Wabash.
Then passenger service was introduced. A
depot was built near the present ball park, and
Strasburg was "on the map." Stations were built
about six to ten miles apart so they could serve the
small communities. The train could be flagged
down at Buttermilk Station north of town, and a
nickel would pay for a ride to town. Many people
rode the train to visit nearby relatives, and in the
teens and twenties high school students boarded
the Wabash to go to nearby towns to further their
Both the railroad and the town thrived and
grew with the advent of passenger service, but the
city fathers were alarmed that these new-fangled
machines should roar through town spewing sparks
and scaring their horses. Accordingly, ordinances
were passed prohibiting any locomotive to travel
through the city at a greater speed than six miles
an hour. The penalty for failure to observe the
speed law would result in the railroads being fined
at least ten dollars. Fines would also be rendered
against the railroad if any engine, train, car, or other
obstruction impeded the free passage of teams or
pedestrians for more than five minutes. It was also
decided that the railroad should be responsible for
construction of and maintenance of passageways
and culverts on each and every street or alley
through which it passed. This city ordinance was
duly voted on and passed on July 13, 1894.
The railroad provided employment, and many
young men sought jobs on the section crew. Pay-
day was the nineteenth of each month, and work-
men were paid by the month. If one started work
on the first of the month, he would work fifty
days before he got his check. Section men
received $1.15 a day. They were not paid on days
when they could not work. It might even be
possible for men to lose money working on the
railroad, since they were charged fifty cents for
board. For example, if a section man were hired on
Sunday, July 1 , he would be charged a day's board.
If it rained on Monday, he would not work until
Tuesday. Therefore, he would be charged for
three days' board ($1.50) and would receive $1.15
in pay. He would be thirty-five cents in debt before
he started. No wonder the old song went, "I've been
workin' on the railroad just to pass the time away."
Nevertheless, many did find grainful employ-
ment and made railroadin' a lifetime career. During
the railroad's existence there were four station
masters: Al Davidson, Henry Faster, Orville Storm,
and John Stearns. Some local railroaders were
Charles "Tud" Wilson and Herbert "Bert" Wiandt,
Bill Wilson, John Wade, and Otis Wiandt.
Just as the towns were dependent on the rail-
roads, the railroads were dependent on the towns.
Before the advent of the automobile and good roads,
both were successful. In 1928 Highway 32 was
constructed through the same towns which were
being served by the railroad. As traffic increased
on the highway, it decreased on the railroad. People
drove their cars from town to town. More and more
trucks were used to transport the livestock and
grain which were once the lifeblood of the railroad.
By the 1930's the Wabash was in financial trouble,
and passenger service was discontinued. Two years
later the railroad had ceased to exist, and the last
vestige of it was removed as the tracks were torn
up and the depots moved or torn down.
The Wabash making its scheduled stop at the Strasburg
The Laying of the "Slab"
It has not been too many years ago that the
pavement going through the middle of Strasburg
was simply a mud road. The route was known as
the Grand Prairie Trail and the letters GPT were on
the telephone poles along the road.
Marvin Ulmer recalls, as a small boy, the
road through Strasburg before the "slab". What
dust! Just like the township roads, it got its yearly
grading, dragging, and a luscious coat of thick oil.
A big mud wallow in the "pre-slab" days extended
all the way across the road at the line between
where Pete Buesking's and Carolyn Wallace's pro-
perties are now. In the winter when the ground
was freezing and thawing, there was a rut in which
vehicles could sink into up to the axle. This
caused lots of trouble for funeral processions.
Marvin remembers that the Stewardson Packing
Company operated eight or ten trucks which went
through town every morning, and when it was
muddy, every truck had to be pulled through
every morning. G. C. York was ever-ready with his
Plans were made to complete route 129
through Strasburg, and in 1928 work was begun
on the strip from route 16 south to where the
high school now stands. J. J. Ransom of Palestine
was contractor. Some remember John Anderson
and son Cecil who had the bridge building contract.
Three large bridges went in at Herbon corner,
where Chas. Anderson now lives in town, and north
of town where Larry Lenz farms now.
Spring, 1928, was rainy, and mud made the
road work difficult. Hedges along the right of way
were pulled out by teams. Road grading was done
with horses and mules.
This construction work was, no doubt, good
for the economy of Strasburg,Herborn, and Steward-
son. During this time many road workers and their
families moved into town, renting rooms from
local citizens for $5.00 a month. Some crew
members stayed in vacant country houses, and
some camped. There was a camp at Maple Grove,
two miles south of Strasburg, on the.Noffke farm,
where workers pitched tents. Twenty-seven mules
had been driven up from Olney, and these teams
were kept here also. Later there was a camp north
of town where Elmer Richards lives now. Bridge-
gang headquarters were in the northeast part of
town, and Orville Bauer recalls picking up his pay-
check there. A man's wages was 35 cents a day; a
man plus his own team received 50 cents a day.
Usually the crews worked ten hour days.
Rock, gravel, and cement were "shipped in"
to Strasburg on the Wabash. Hug trucks and
Model T Ford trucks hauled these supplies to the
road site where it would be mixed and poured.
Horse-drawn water wagons brought water from
dammed up branches or from wells.
The July 26, 1928, issue of the Strasburg
Herald contained an article about the road con-
'The hard road outfit now working on Stras-
burg 's new hard road probably broke, as far as can
be learned, the world's record for cement pouring
in one single day and for the time taken to put
down one mile in consecutive days. Their record
breaker of a single day was J, 1519 feet. There are
other mixers of a larger capacity that have beaten
The work on a one mile stretch was done by
J. J. Ransom's outfit in four days. This is consider-
ed an extra good run for a six bag mixer . . . As far
as can be learned, "Susie" takes the cake. Mr.
Ransom figures on starting on the north end of
route 16 sometime Saturday. "
There is a story about one elderly gentleman
who, after the "slab" was in, never realized the
danger of walking on it as he had in the days
before the pavement. Someone concerned about
his safety once cautioned him that he might be hit
by an automobile. His quick retort was, "I was
here before the "slab" was." -and that settled that!
Work on the "slab" through Strasburg probably
ended the summer of 1929. W. 0. Keller remembers
the pouring of the last load of concrete at the
Herborn crossing. It's printed in the October 6,
1932, Strasburg Herald: "Several Strasburg resi-
dents motored to Effingham Sunday afternoon to
try out the recently completed slab on Route 129.
It is a great road."
In 1965, the pavement was resurfaced. The
asphalt plant was located on Dale Rincker's farm.
In 1970, route 32 was again resurfaced and widened.
It's Homecoming time again! The young at
heart, from one to ninety, have waited anxiously
for the annual Strasburg Homecoming celebration
each year since the early turn of the century.
Some of the first Homecomings were held on
the Fourth of July with the festivities proclaimed
by banners and flags waving from the Risser flag-
pole on their roof across the road east to the top
of Bill Telgman's barn.
Later celebrations were changed to the fall of
the year and the program was a two day affair
with carnival rides and concessions that arrived in
Strasburg on the railroad. Old timers remember
the glass blower, a greased pig contest, tugs-of-war
across the pond, and, of course, the races across
(continued on page 38)
Fourth of July parade going west on Commercial Street-1900.
The Royal Neighbors, organized July 28, 1899, with twenty
charter members, sponsored a float in the 1901 parade.
July 4, 1901 -Speaker's stand, Band Boys and Dr. York
(the oldest permanent resident of the village) Director of
speaking and amusement. The stalk of corn on the table
took the prize - height, 116 in. - the tallest bluegrass 60 in.
A balloon ascension during a celebration in the early days of Strasburg.
Strasburg Band— organized in 1900. Building at left back-
ground is hotel which stood on present bank site.
July 4, 1901 -Float of Joe Backensto. After filling all posi-
tions on the R.R. from section hand to conductor for the
past sixteen years, he moved here in April 1900 em-
barking in the saloon business. Last spring he added a cigar
factory which is represented by his float.
1948 carnival at Homecoming.
Looking east from Weber's Store.
Rincker's Poultry House, Wm.
Engel Hardware, and Post Office
were later destroyed by fire.
Homecoming committee in 1933.
Left to right are: George E. Kull,
Frank Price, Rudolph Von Behren,
Dr. S. C. Lorton, Orty Webner,
Emil Noffke, Wm. Traue, O. A.
Green, John Staehli, Chas. Krile,
J. C. DeLaurenti, Wm. Engel, M.
G. Ulmer, Wm. Wilson.
Crowd assembled to watch after-
noon program during 1948 Home-
coming. Stage was set on the
street between the bank and
(continued from page 34)
Weber's Pond in wooden tubs! Baseball and out-
door basketball games drew huge crowds. Hitching
contests and horse races, talent programs, and
balloon ascensions were highlights of past Strasburg
In the late 1930's into the 1940's, our town
hosted large crowds who came for the annual free
beef barbecue and the free fish frys.
Following is a report quoted from the Sep-
tember 1 4, 1 934 Strasburg Herald:
The Strasburg Home-Coming sponsored by
the association formed several years ago, is a matter
of record now and it was one of the best ever held
in point of attendance. The barbecue is a good head
liner to get the people to come and it is gratifying
to see everybody enjoy the sandwiches and coffee
given out to them free. Five thousand sandwiches
were disposed of in an hour and as far as is known
everybody was pleased and along with them a cup
of coffee to each if desired.
Dr. Lorton of Shumway supervised the roast-
ing of three fine beeves and he did an excellent job
of it. The meat was thoroughly cooked and its
quality was first class. A large crowd of town folks
looked on with intense interest Tuesday night
while the fire was burning in the trench to make the
bed of coals for the roast. It was all new and some-
One of the interesting parts of the day's pro-
gram was the entertainment at the north garage.
Eight hundred people saw the afternoon and
evening programs and at the small charge of 5</
and 104, $64 was the proceeds which was used to
Strasburg school band gave a short concert at
noon before the serving of barbecues began.
The tango game furnished entertainment for
those who like it. Two dances were held in halls
by private parties and in which the Home Coming
Association had nothing to do.
A base ball game was played at the park by
the Colored Swans of Decatur and local team. The
result was 6 to 2 in favor of the home team. Rain
prevented many from witnessing the contest.
The "tug of war" and foot races were the last
event on the program. The foot race was won by
Bill Kinsel of Bruce who is an all-round athlete and
who pitched the game for Strasburg. Mr. Kinsel
has been drafted as a player on the Cardinal ball
team of St. Louis.
A note-worth thing of the day was the good
behavior of the crowd. Only one arrest was made.
The program of the "Home Talent Variety
Program" held on Wednesday, September 12, 1934
during that year's Homecoming read as follows:
HOME TALENT VARIETY PROGRAM
1 . Music Stremming Bros.
2. "Hiram Blows In" Wm. Faster
3. Quartet Carl Kull, Bryan Renshaw,
Delbert Smith, Merle Kull
4. Play "Just Out of the Hospital"
directed by Mrs. Mae Young
5. Music Stremming Bros.
6. Play "Bell's Wife" East Salem Group
7. Quartet-Helen Doehring, Mrs. Ruby Hudson,
Carl Kull, Merle Kull
8. Play "If I Were President"
directed by Mrs. G. A. Schimmel
9. Music Stremming Bros.
10. "A Small Boy's Troubles" ... Marvin Ulmer
11. "Moving Day" Marjorie Engel
12. "Kerchoo" Junior Storm
13. Music Stremming Bros.
14. Play "A Sick Coon" . . . Carl Ruff
15. Music Stremming Bros.
Admission 54 and 104 York's North Garage
John Deere Days in Strasburg.
Since that time, Strasburg's Homecoming has
become a three day and night celebration with
commercial entertainment, midway rides, queen
contests, tractor pulls, farm product displays, pet
parades, and prize drawings.
A few of the local men who organized the
Homecomings during the 1900's include Max and
Floyd Weber, Dale York, Donald Webner, Bill
Hamm, Orville Engel, and Roy Rincker. For more
than ten years, Emmert Weber, Marion Small, and
Roy Kull were responsible for the success of the
For the past fifteen years, Homecoming has
been held at the Strasburg Park instead of down
Main Street, and in 1967 the Strasburg Lions took
over sponsorship of the Homecoming. Homecoming
Days still remain a highlight of the years' activities
for Strasburg area citizens.
With a Song in their Hearts
Those who helped Strasburg grow from a
handful of stores on the prairie to a flourishing
town are described as industrious and hard-working
peoples. Yet they, too, found time for family fun
which sometimes grew into entertaining which the
entire community enjoyed.
The Herman Diepholz Family first picked up
their musical instruments in the evenings for their
own enjoyment. They learned melodies by listen-
ing to thp victrola. Neva (now Mrs. Carl Buesking)
was at the piano. Lorene (now Mrs. Orty Baum-
garten) played the violin with her father. Melvard
had a guitar and a violin, and their mother took
turns at the piano. The family soon played for
"house dances". Andy Bauer or Herman Diepholz
would call at these dances after a couple of rooms
were cleared and the rugs were rolled back. The
schottische, the polka, the waltz, and square dancing
were enjoyed. In the summer, barn dances were
scenes of gay crowds. Dances were also held above
Dick Storm's Store or Fred Kircher's Hardware
Store in Strasburg.
With 500 of gas and the Old Dodge loaded
with trap drums, violins, a mandolin, a banjo, and
guitars, the group was ready to go wherever music
was needed— chicken frys, homecomings, dances,
community plays, and class plays. Melvard served
in WWII, and he died at age thirty-three from wound
complications. Following this, the family group
ceased to play publicly.
The three youngest sons of August Stremming,
farmer in the Strasburg area, are known as the
Stremming Brothers. Wilbur got a guitar when he
was about fourteen years old. He worked for Ed
Doeding, and he learned to play by chording along
with Doeding. Later Gilbert began playing a violin
while Eddie, the youngest, picked up a five string
banjo and later, a mandolin.
The boys played together on the porch at
home. Then they began furnishing music at school
houses, for weddings, during programs, and for
"hoe-downs". Dances were held in barns or houses
near Windsor, Middlesworth, Trowbridge, and Stras-
burg. Andy Bauer's house, barns owned by Dave
Rincker, Emil Noffke, Henry Vonderheide, and
August Doeding's barnlot all were scenes of evenings
of fun. It's been said the Stremming Brothers never
Pictured are Stremming Brothers.
turned down a "job". In the 1930's they were
sponsored by local merchants several Sunday after-
noons on the radio station WDZ at Tuscola.
Music was provided throughout the com-
munity by the Stremming Brothers until the late
St. Paul's Orchestra played at church affairs,
such as German picnics, mission festivals and church
anniversaries. Orchestra members recall traveling to
Blue Point and to Altamont. The orchestra also
entertained at birthdays, weddings, and other
"socials". This group played over a period of ten
to fifteen years with most members taking part for
five or six years each. World War I called many
members away, and the group disbanded.
The Strasburg Band, another village group,
had a concert at the bandstand every Thursday
night. Other engagements included marching at
homecomings, playing at the three day Hammond
County Fair, and at horse races at Shelbyville.
Under the directorship of Alf Duling, Everett
Haney, or Grant Gibler, the village band entertained
until the early 1930's. Later school students gave
public band concerts here.
Merle and Carl Kull, sons of Henry Kull, sang
at countless weddings and funerals in the com-
munity, not to mention programs, box suppers, and
Chautauquas at Shelbyville. Sometimes with two
others, the boys formed a quartet. Their sister,
Ruby Hudson, often accompanied them.
The children of Virgil Collins were very musi-
cal, and they have also entertained in the area.
In many rural school houses, Community
Clubs met monthly and various musical groups of
the area entertained.
Bill Widdersheim, an accomplished violinist,
who came to Strasburg around 1915, is noteworthy
because he had played with the Philadelphia
Philharmonic. Occasionally in this community he
played for the public.
In 1963, the two Strasburg Lutheran churches
along with Trinity of Stewardson began presenting
special Christmas concerts. The churches involved
take turns hosting the concert.
Music is still a part of Strasburg's community
life, as church choirs, the school band, and talented
St. Paul's Orchestra under
direction of teacher A. H.
Scheer. First row bottom:
Fred Doeding, Ed Doeding,
A. H. Scheer, Ed Buesking,
Herman Diepholz. Second
row: Ed Hartman, Emil
Ulmer, Chris Diepholz, Theo
Von Behren, Edwin Strem-
ming, August Doeding.
Back row: Martin Mueller,
Otto Wirth, Hugo Wirth,
Wm. Juhnke, Westerman.
Strasburg Concert Band and Bandstand about 1925. Back row standing left to right: Roy Storm, Edwin Metzler, Don
E 60 .^ B ,f re "' ^ d U " ruh / Emery Duling. Warren Storm, Vern Oliver, Albin Foelsing. Seated: BertWiandt,
B.ll Faster, Arthur Unruh, Albert York, Elma Duling, Chris Kircher, A. C. Duling Everett Henne
"The whole town's on fire!" That was the cry
that went out from all those who were awakened
early in the morning hours of March 11, 1963 and
looked toward the main part of Strasburg. Indeed
several buildings on the south side of the main
street were destroyed and a large vacant space was
left. This brought to mind earlier times when fire
leveled business buildings and left ruin and devesta-
tion in its wake.
On at least two occasions a hay barn was
burned in the east part of town causing great
danger to other buildings and considerable loss to
the owners. Hay barns were used as large ware-
houses for storing hay bought by a dealer and
shipped to out-of-town buyers or sold to local
Probably one of the most tragic events in the
town's history occurred when a young business
man suffered fatal burns as he was carrying out his
duties. Albert Faster, whose brother William has
been well known to all in the community, lost his
life at the age of 22 in January, 1902. He was a
clerk in the General Store owned by J. E. Weber
and was getting ready to light a gasoline lamp for
night's work, as stores were open late every night.
As he was pumping air pressure into the lamp, the
gas bowl of the lamp exploded and scattered gas
over his clothing. A spark from the stove set fire
to that end of the store and to the young man.
Young Mr. Faster ran out into the street toward
a pump at a well before the owner could reach
him and he suffered deep and painful burns. He
was taken home, but medical aid could not save
Ten pounds of gunpowder under the counter
of the store exploded and the shock and report of
the blast were felt and heard many blocks away.
The explosion put out the fire so that the goods
were not destroyed and the building did not burn,
but it was wrecked beyond repair. Every window
glass was broken and walls were bulged out and
joists over the cellar were splintered. Fortunately,
there were no customers in the store at the time,
but Mr. Weber suffered burns about the face and
hands as he tried to reach the young clerk and
smother the flames.
The post office, located in the southeast
corner of the building, was occupied by the young
man's father who was Postmaster. When the elder
Mr. Faster saw the blaze in the other part of the
building, he began to gather books and records and
was rushing out with them when the explosion
threw him out into the street. Many of the older
citizens still tell about this event.
Late night or early morning seem best, or
rather, worst for fires. Fire fighters were called out
early one February morning in 1947 when the tavern
and pool hall operated by John Anderson and
George Lloyd, and located on a corner in the center
of town, were demolished. Although the near-zero
temperatures almost froze the hoses to the street
and the fire truck was festooned with icicles, the
firemen were able to prevent the flames from
spreading to other business places. Water was used
from a well until it was drained and from the
stream near the tavern. The furnishings and stock
of the tavern were destroyed along with the build-
ings, and operators of nearby stores began to pile
merchandise in the street in case the fire spread to
their buildings. An overheated stove or furnace was
thought to be the cause. Unaware of the tragedy,
the bar keeper, Martin Mueller, came to work at his
usual time to find that not only was there no bar,
there wasn't even a tavern!
Again, very early in the morning of March 1 1,
1963, an alarm went out and firemen and villagers
were confronted with a blaze that threatened the
whole down-town area. Before it was contained,
half a business block was destroyed, taking four
store buildings, one of which was empty. The old
Postoffice building, owned by George E. Kull, was
gone with an estimated loss of $4,000.00. Although
it was not being used as the Postoffice, some
articles were stored in it. The fire was thought to
have started in the Lowry Hardware Store, run by
Don Lowry. This business had been purchased
from Wm. W. Engel Sons. The entire stock was
destroyed, with a loss of $25,000. A brick building
at the rear of the hardware store, which in times
past had been used as an old ice house, was also
lost. The Juhnke Poultry building suffered a loss
of $10,000. A corrugated siding on a canopy
across the driveway of the Juhnke building stopped
the blaze from continuing on to the nearby build-
ings. Driven by a strong east wind, the burning
embers were tossed into the air and endangered
other buildings. Helpers were busy on roof tops,
sweeping off burning bits of wood and putting
out the fires started by them. Charred pieces were
found beyond the northwest edges of town. Win-
dows were broken by the intense heat in the Weber
building across the street. Everyone helped as
much as possible, and the American Legion Post
and Auxiliary opened its hall to serve coffee and
donuts to the workers.
Fire! Former Post Office Building ablaze.
On February 10, 1965, a $40,000.00 fire
which began about 10:30 a.m. destroyed the Dale
Young Mfg. Co. plant and a building owned by
Martin Pfeiffer. The buildings stood across the
street east of the town fire-house. Apparently the
Above: Firemen silhouetted against the blaze. Below:
Morning after, (fire photos by James Kull)
fire broke out in the paint spraying room, and was
seen and reported by Burl Hobson from his home
across the street, when smoke began to come out of
a ventilator. Dale Young, the owner, suffered burns
on his head and arms, and was taken to the
hospital. The Pfeiffer building had been used in
conjunction with the funeral home and had been
used for storage.
The stream flowing through Strasburg from
east to west is familiarly known as "The Branch".
In times of fire a dam was hastily thrown across the
stream to collect a supply of water, which was
used by the pumper in addition to the water in the
city wells. Most of the time the branch runs
serenely along, and in summer is almost dry, but at
times of heavy rainfalls, it, too, can go on a rampage,
as is evident from the news item taken from the
local paper in June, 1957:
Strasburg Little Prepared for Seven-Inch Deluge
The dark, clouds loomed menacingly, and the
rains came, but Strasburg was little prepared for the
seven-inch deluge which descended on the territory
Thursday night and early Friday morning.
Three families awoke to find themselves
marooned in a sea of water. The houses of Orval
Bauer, Silas Boyer and Alvin Kearney were com-
pletely surrounded by water. His basement flooded,
Orval Bauer waded into the waist high water in an
attempt to salvage food from a floating deep freeze.
The road which passes the three residences was
impassable with water high enough to permit use of
a row boat. Two local men, Don Lowry and Dale
Young, were enjoying the unexpected pleasure of
main street boating when their boat was suddenly
caught in the undertow of the Kearney bridge and
they were unceremoniously dumped into the sur-
Mr. and Mrs. John Radloff were celebrating
their ninth wedding anniversary with a "night out"
at the Mattoon theater. They arrived home at
9:30 a.m. Enroute from Mattoon, they, along with
many other motorists were stranded on Highway 16
because of high waters, and were forced to spend
the night in their automobile. The last seen of
Howard Wirth about 10:30 a.m., he was wandering
the streets hoping the water east of town would
lower enough for him to drive the 2]6 miles home.
Water flooded Highway 32 forcing Dale York
and Earl Renshaw to construct mud dikes to keep
water from flowing in the basement windows and
doors at street level. The Renshaw parking lot was
completely under water.
Most Mattoon workers took an enforced
vacation as highway 16 was closed to traffic.
Heavy snows and teeth-chattering tempera-
tures are not uncommon in this area, and may
have occurred more often in the "Olden Days",
but there was not quite the inconvenience then,
because most people could stay at home and wait
until such time as the roads were cleared or they
could get out with horse drawn sleds or on foot.
With more modern vehicles, a blizzard paralyses
traffic, and that is what happened when a ten-inch
snow blanketed the area on Sunday, January 16,
1964. The deep drifts made travel impossible, and
some who were able to get to church that morning
found it difficult to get home again. By Monday,
all highways in the area were closed, and state
crews worked around the clock, trying to keep the
roads open, but high winds would blow the tracks
shut before the return trip. Township workers were
unable to conquer the drifts, but where they did
get through, the snow was piled up in high banks,
which would again drift shut. Cars and trucks were
stalled and travelers were stranded, and some had
to be taken in by local families. The grocery store
was soon sold out of bread and milk, and new
stocks could not be delivered. School buses could
not run, and schools were closed on Monday, but
opened again Tuesday. Service stations were
swamped with calls for towing service, tires, chains,
and batteries. Temperatures dipped to zero at
night, adding to the discomfort and hardships.
In this community we are so used to spring
rains, and occasionally a summer flood, that when-
ever there is a period of more than a couple of
weeks without a shower, especially in summer, the
residents begin to ask one another, "Is this going to
be another '54?" Many people can recall some
very dry and hot summers, but none of these
made such a deep impression as that extremely dry
period in 1954-55 which is referred to as "The
Lake Paradise, near Mattoon, was almost com-
pletely dried up, and people could experience what
it felt like to drive a car across the lake bed, which
was hard and solid except for the deep cracks
which seemed to divide the ground in blocks.
The extremely hot weather brought the intro-
duction of the first air conditioners, which have
since become a normal piece of equipment for the
home and office.
Water had been in short supply all year, and
by summer the effects began to be felt. Crops had
been put in as usual, and were growing, but after
several days of temperatures over the hundred mark,
and no rains, the full impact of the drying winds
became quite evident when the therometer reached
114° on the 14th of July. From then on, every-
thing seemed wilted, and corn grew only a few
small flinty ears on stalks about a yard high. Wells
that had never been dry before now failed, and
water had to be hauled in periodically for use in
many homes. Most country people had livestock
and poultry that also had to be supplied. The
town wells on the business street were very popular
places, as many families relied on the water they
could carry home from them, until one of these also
Residents would scan the skies hopefully to
catch sight of a cloud that might contain moisture,
but they were few and far between and even the
distant rumble of thunder was like music. Some
efforts were made to "seed" the clouds in order to
produce rain and Rain-makers became very popular,
although not very successful. Deep cracks appeared
in the ground and grass became dry and brittle and
almost non-existent, so that lawn mowers could be
stored away unused. Those people who washed
their cars became very unpopular, as everyone was
required to conserve as much water as possible.
Everyone learned to appreciate the simple gift of a
refreshing rain and a drink of cool water.
Faith of our Fathers -
The Story of our Churches
GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH
Some years before the actual founding of
Grace Church, it became apparent that there was a
need for Lutheran worship services in the English
language. In the fall of 1896, this was discussed at
a meeting at St. Paul's. The congregation at this
time was not ready to hold services in English, but
the pastor, Rev. A. Werfelmann, made arrangements
for seminary students and faculty to preach at a
vacant public school building in town for Lutherans
who preferred English. This building was just west
of the present church structure, and it is still
standing, now on the Wm. Brehmer farm.
In February, 1897, the first English Lutheran
service of this little group was conducted by
Student Wenchel. Attendance at following services
increased, and soon the schoolhouse was filled on
Sundays. When the building was to be auctioned
off in June of 1897, the question arose where ser-
vices would be held. Ed Klump, James F. Kull,
and Henry Spannagel decided to purchase the
building, and the price paid was $400.00. Thus, a
permanent worship place was provided before the
new congregation was formally organized. The
seven signing the constitution in August, 1897, were
Henry Spannagel, Edward Klump, Chris Kircher,
John E. Weber, James F. Kull, William Brehmer,
and John Depner.
Grace Church obtained its first pastor, Rev.
Martin Daib, in 1899.
A parsonage and a stable were built in 1901.
The parsonage was located where the church now
is; it was moved north when the church was built.
The stable was on the west end of the church
The congregation grew, and in 1912 a decision
was made to construct the present brick church
building. In 1914 this temple of worship was
dedicated by a membership of over two hundred.
The church's interior with oak altar remains basical-
ly the same today as when built.
Rev. G. Schimmel served Grace the longest,
from 1920 until his death in 1937. During this
time the two bells named "Faith and Love" were
dedicated. Until recently, these bells would toll
out the old year, and ring in the new at New Year's
Eve Watch Parties held in the church basement.
Young men of Grace have always represented
the community in the military service. During the
years of World War II when Rev. Metzdorf was
minister, forty young men of Grace served in the
military; thirty-two of them on overseas duty. All
but one returned; Kenneth Wilson was lost on a
ship in the Mediterranean in 1944.
The church's 50th anniversary was celebrated
in 1947. Many remember the special Mission
Festival Sunday observed each fall. Potluck meals
and three church services with emphasis on mission
work was the order of the day.
In recent years, many improvements have
been made. A new office building was erected in
1961, and in 1965 the brick parsonage was con-
structed. Latest church interior decorating was
done in 1972.
Active church organizations include the Ladies'
Aid (organized in 1911), Men's Club, Walther
League (since 1922), Fellowship Club, and the
choir. A vacation Bible School is held each summer,
and Grace Church has helped organize a new
congregation in Sullivan. Youth instruction is
provided through the Sunday School program and
the Saturday confirmation classes.
Oldest members at this writing are Louise
Giertz, Henry Kull, Fred Lenz, and William Kull.
Membership grew steadily until a peak was reached
in 1945 with 355 total members. Rev. M. Kam-
( continued on page 46)
St. Paul's Church and School
Grace Lutheran Church and
Grace Lutheran Church as it
f . '' Baptist Church,
Strasburg Baptist Church.
United Methodist Church before it was remodeled.
Strasburg First Baptist Church built in 1962.
United Methodist Church today.
(continued from page 43)
mrath, pastor since 1962, now serves a membership
of about 270.
ST. PAUL'S LUTHERAN CHURCH
Lutheran settlers in this community hailed
from Chicago, and they settled on the rich prairie
lands south of Strasburg. With the help of their
former pastor in Chicago, they got Rev. H. W.
Rincker of Terre Haute, Indiana to come to Stras-
burg in the early 1860's. By 1866 a congregation
was organized. First church officers were: Fred-
erick Bauer, John Falk, Sr., Frederick Wirth, John
Kircher, G. Nehring, Carl Brehmer, John Ruff, and
Wm. Wangelin. First church services were held in
homes or public schools, and later in a building on
the Rincker farm near Herborn, just south and east
of where the Stewardson-Strasburg School stands
now. Rev. F. W. Schlechte was the first resident
pastor, and he also served surrounding territories.
Land one and one-fourth miles south of Stras-
burg was donated by Gottfried Pfeiffer and here a
20' x 30' church was erected. When additional
land was bought, a parsonage and a cemetery were
Since the membership increased rapidly, a
new church was constructed on a more centrally
located plot in 1875. Christian Spannagel, con-
tractor, built the church for about $4,000.00. The
original church property south of town was used
for schooling until 1884. This second church
interior featured a high pulpit, a balcony around
three sides, an altar draped of red velvet, a coal
stove, and coal oil lamps. German was the language
used in the church. Members sat during the services
with women and children downstairs and the men
in the balcony, and the church officers in the crosc
St. Paul's Church, 1916.
benches at the front of the church. Singing was led
until a pipe organ was installed in 1882. The origi-
nal church bell is still used. Members recall the bell
ringing on Saturday evening reminding all of wor-
ship service on the next day.
In 1897 some church members who preferred
speaking English helped organize Grace Lutheran
Rev. C. F. Keller and 875 church members
celebrated the church's 50th anniversary in 1916.
A throng of people estimated at 2000 gathered at
south Strasburg to celebrate this happy occasion.
Dinner and supper were served and it reminded
one of the Biblical feeding of the 5000. Morning
and afternoon services were conducted in German
and the evening service in English. Three founders,
John Ruff, Wm. Wangelin, and Frederick Wirth,
were still present.
About thirty St. Paul's men were drafted into
World War I, and the following died in service:
Henry C. Lading, Fred Nippe, F. W. Pieper, and
Andrew Ruff. During these war years there was a
transition to the English language in the Church.
During the 1930's the congregation held twin
services on Sunday, one in German and one in
In 1941, the congregation redecorated the
church, installed a new oil-o-matic heater, and
reconditioned its pipe organ. In June 1941, St.
Paul's observed its 75th anniversary with three
services. Rev. L. Stuebe was serving the 653
members at this time.
Kenneth Buesking and Paul Stuebe were the
first men of St. Paul's called into service during
World War II. The service flag at the front of the
church was taken down in December, 1946, when
Arthur Unruh, Jr., the last of the fifty-one men,
had returned home or reenlisted.
Plans were made for a new building in 1949.
Cornerstone laying services were held for this on
October 11, 1953 and were conducted by Rev.
Howard Kramer, who attended St. Paul's Lutheran
School for eight years. He was the son of Wm. A.
Kramer who taught at the school for twelve years.
In 1954 the present house of worship was dedicated
while Rev. G. A. Lueck was pastor.
St. Paul's church has been served by eleven
resident pastors since its beginning. The Rev.
C. F. Keller and Rev. L. Stuebe each served sixteen
years. The congregation maintains a parsonage,
and two teacherages east of the church building.
The congregation, now in its 107th year,
numbers about 600 members. Active church groups
include a Men's Club, Ladies Aid Society, Walther
League, P.T.L., and a choir. The church supports a
Sunday School, Bible class, and a day school.
Presently, oldest members are Sophia Span-
nagel, Sophia Lenz, Emilia Lenz, Mary Ulmer, Viola
Ruff, Minnie Kasang, Martin Buesking, and August
STRASBURG BAPTIST CHURCH
The Richland Regular Baptist Church was
organized in August, 1875. This early congregation
shared the Richland Church Building north of Stras-
burg with three other congregations. Elder T. M.
Griffith from Windsor served as first pastor for the
Wanting a church building of their own, these
early members erected a place of worship in
Strasburg, and the group moved its services to town
Now the church's name was changed to the
First Baptist Church of Strasburg.
Many improvements and changes have been
made over the years to the church property. In
1907, a brick walk was built on the west side of
the property. A piano was purchased for church
use in 1918, and electric lights were installed in
The original church structure was torn down
in 1962, so that the present building could be
erected. An annex was built in 1966, and in 1972
the church members added a parking lot.
Church membership has varied throughout
the church's history. In 1907, eighty members
answered roll call. Currently, membership totals
Oldest members now are Addie Richards,
Fairie Renshaw, and Florence Staehli.
About 1885, a group of non-Lutheran Protes-
tants began to feel the need of a church of their
faith in Strasburg. It was decided that a Methodist
Church should be started. Since these would-be
Methodists were few in number and limited in cash,
they began having prayer meetings in their homes.
Soon they established a more formal service, using
the Strasburg Public School building (west of the
present Grace Church), and in 1888 they decided to
build a church. To raise the money, some young
ladies of the congregation, Jennie Rankin Martin
and Jennie Kale Spannagel, went around the
countryside collecting salable products, such as
potatoes, eggs, butter, corn, and poultry. Proceeds
from the sale of these items made a tidy next egg.
Meanwhile Luther Kale (father of the late Mrs.
Wm. Spannagel) tucked his Bible under his arm and
solicited funds from local businessmen.
After the erection of the building, Rev. Miles
Hart came from Windsor and preached each Sunday.
Benches without backs were the first seats used.
Later a reed organ was added and Nellie Beck
Kircher chorded the Methodist tunes so people
could join in congregational singing.
As the years passed, the benches were ex-
changed for chairs. Two large round oak stoves
were used for heat. Oldsters remember the large
Christmas tree with candles all colors and lit with a
match. Besides a house of worship, the church was
a social center with programs, hayrides, and picnics
enjoyed by all.
A new Sunday School room and social hall
were added onto the church in 1954. Latest build-
ing improvements were made in 1970 when the
church interior was paneled.
The church's young people are active, and the
Methodist ladies formed a society known first as
the Ladies' Aid, now the United Methodist Women
Strasburg's Methodist Church is proud of its
members who have gone into the ministry: Earl
Stierwalt, Karl Cowell, Paul Curry, Ernest Duling,
and George Terry.
The congregation currently numbers about
107. Rev. Donald A. Graham is pastor.
Early settlers felt the need for a Protestant
Church which could be used by many denomina-
tions. Therefore, in 1867 five gentlemen got
together and purchased a tract of land on which an
interdenominational church could be erected. These
men— Samuel Renner, Sampson Casky, L. H.
Turner, Joseph Hayden, and Harvey Blair-bought
a tract about three miles north-west of Strasburg
from Lorenzo and Cynthia Turner and the Richland
Church was built. It served as a church home for
five major religions in the territory; Baptist, Metho-
dist, Christian, Church of God, and Unitarians. In
the tradition of the day, all day preach-ins were
held with the people spreading their lunch under
the trees for a communal dinner. Revivals were
popular and people from miles around would gather
to hear the evangelists.
Because it was the meeting place for all
denominations, it was not unusual for the church
to be full of God-fearing Protestants who loudly
proclaimed their amens from the benches. As
Strasburg grew, the Baptists and Methodists left to
start churches of their own in the nearby village.
The church was later taken over by the Methodist
Conference, but services were discontinued there
in the early 1950's. The building no longer stands.
ZION EVANGELICAL CHURCH
In the late 1850's a church was organized, and
a frame place of worship was erected three miles
south of Strasburg and one mile east. This was on
the corner of the John Kasang farm, and the church
was always referred to as Kasang Church.
This circuit church was one of the earliest in
this area, and families who attended included the
Bredows, the Fritzes, the Beckers, Rosines, Tab-
berts, and Reeces.
After disbanding around 1920, most members
joined with neighboring Methodist congregations.
The church building and furnishings were sold at
an auction, and the ground was returned to the
As early as 1855 a class led by Wm. Carnes
met at the East Salem schoolhouse where Don
Westenhaver now lives. The Methodists gathered
here soon felt the need for a church building, and
in 1875 Wesley Chapel was constructed about eight
miles west of Strasburg. The church was completed
under the ministry of J. C. Burkett at a cost of
This original building was torn down, and
some of the lumber was used in 1942 when the
place of worship was rebuilt.
Until 1968 Wesley Chapel was a part of the
Strasburg Circuit and was served by the same
minister who led worship in Strasburg.
The present pastor is Rev. Robert L. Foulk,
who resides in Clarksburg.
The congregation at Wesley Chapel is noted
for in its community socials, soup suppers and
icecream socials, which until recently were annual
GASKILL CHAPEL CHURCH
According to legend, the first M. E. church to
serve the southwestern part of Ash Grove was a log
church in a grove of twelve sycamore trees just
west of Drake Creek. This original building burned
during the Civil War, and a brick church was built.
The brick came from one-half mile north up Drake
Creek. The solid walnut seats therein were made
by James Wiandt, carpenter and violin maker.
One of the first preachers was Allen Gaskill
from whom the church probably got its name. He
is buried in the adjoining cemetery. Some of the
first church members were Gaskills, Evans, Worleys,
Brandts, Carruthers, Becks, Everharts, Storms, and
The "brick church" stood as it had been con-
structed until 1954 when a storm tore most of the
roof from the building. The church was then re-
roofed and many improvements have been made
In 1960 the first Bible School was held, and it
has been a successful project ever since.
Gaskill Church's 100th year was celebrated in
1969. Presently church attendance is about thirty-
five, with Sunday services conducted by Rev. Don
Graham of the Stewardson-Strasburg Circuit.
LOWER ASH GROVE CHURCH OF CHRIST
In 1832 Rev. Jackie Storm organized a
Christian Church in a log cabin at Ash Grove, and
people in the southern part of the township attend-
ed there. Country churches flourished in those
days because travel into a town for services was
Later another Christian minister, a Rev. Lynn,
was instrumental in encouraging the people of
south Ash Grove, and in 1882, a meeting was held
at the home of John 0. Storm to plan the building
of a house of worship. A building committee con-
sisted of Noah Gaddis, James Storm, James Polk
Bennet, William Simms, and John Abercrombie.
These men commissioned Hill iard Doll to erect a
frame church to cost $140.00. Location was one-
fourth mile west of Gaskill.
In 1886 Drake Creek Church, as it was named,
was renamed Church of Christ.
This church was moved to Keller Cemetery in
1908, and it is still located here. The building has
been remodeled and is in good condition. It is
three and one-half miles east of Strasburg on a
knoll with woods on three sides.
Pastor Gaylon Wells of Xenia presently serves
Liberty Hall was located two miles south and
three miles east of Strasburg. This rural community
building was built in 1876 on land owned by George
Hiatt. It was a wooden-A-shaped structure of
donated lumber from nearby sawmills. Oldtimers
say round steel nails were used in the building.
Neighboring preachers, as well as traveling
evangelists, all stopped and held church meetings at
Liberty Hall. Community reunions were held once
a year here with those attending bringing basket
Some of the first families who attended
Liberty Hall were the Jensens, Poisons, Lundeens,
Russelis, Figginses, and Hiatts.
In later years, people began drifting away
and attending churches in nearby towns. The
Seventh Day Adventist group who used Liberty
Hall consolidated with the group in Stewardson.
In the early 1950's Liberty Hall was razed.
"Still sits the school house by the road,
A ragged beggar sunning,
Around it still the summac grows,
And blackberry vines are running. "
Most of these "ragged beggars" are gone now
but wonderful, nostalgic memories will always
live for those of us who were a part of our rural
Early rural schools might not compare favor-
ably with present day standards, but they had their
mission and fulfilled it. Perhaps they were more
appreciated than schools today.
The rural school was not only a source of
learning, but it was also a community center.
Annual wiener roasts, pie and box socials, spelling
bees, community meetings, Christmas programs, and
last-day covered dish dinners drew the neighbor-
hood closer together.
The first school houses were made of hewn
logs, earthen floors, and greased paper windows.
Furniture was benches of split logs. Shelves served
as desks. The room was heated first by fireplaces,
then pot-bellied stoves, and finally by huge jacketed
furnaces that scorched those near them and the heat
never quite reached the far corners of the room.
Sanitation facilities were the two three-holers (two
large, one small) located in opposite corners of the
school ground behind the school house and reached
by cinder paths.
The teachers were usually local people who
passed from one school to another, often returning
to a school they had taught a few years before.
Some were cultural and occupational misfits who
could survive by no other means. But more were
fine, dedicated men and women who helped shape
a growing, strong community. The percentage of
poor teachers was probably no greater then than
can be found today in reorganized schools. At
any rate, many of Strasburg's most successful men
and women received their basic, and often only,
education in the little rural wooden school house.
Schools in Strasburg area included Richland,
Rockford, Hiatt, Elm Grove, Pinhook, Whitlatch,
Mayflower, and Prairie Hall. The Whitlatch School
history is typical of the history of most rural
schools in this locality. A record book, kept in this
school district since 1869, is at present in the hands
of Ed Reel.
It is recorded that Joshua and Nancy Whit-
latch sold a parcel of land for sixty dollars to the
trustees of the School District No. 3.
Andrew C. Ensminger was hired on October
18, 1869, to teach the school for six months for
$300. There were five boys and ten girls enrolled
at the beginning of the term. By April, 1870,
thirteen boys and fifteen girls had attended the
school. There were forty-eight in the district of
school age. August Shanholtzer, B. Mose, and J. F.
Martin were school directors.
One hundred years ago, on September 14,
1874, the teacher was Thomas Robison. Sixty-five
pupils were enrolled in the school. Directors were
Wm. Richards, Joshua Whitlatch, and J. Martin.
"The numeration in 1874 was as follows: total
number under age 21-140; over 6 and under 21 —
In 1881 J. J. Kull was paid $688.00 for
building a new school house and $18.00 for two
back houses. This school burned in 1910.
The daily schedule for a one-room school was
about as follows: At 8:00 a.m. children started to
arrive at school. They played out doors if weather
permitted. If not, games were played inside, seat-
work done, or the older children assisted the teacher
At 9:00 "books took up." Usually ten or
fifteen minutes were spent in opening exercises.
This consisted of singing songs, reciting poetry, or
reading a book of classic literature by the teacher
or an advanced pupil.
"Books" started with the chart class being
called to the recitation bench and sounds were
taught. Next was the first reader class. As each
class finished reciting, it was given seat work and
the next class was called forward. Reading classes
were required to read aloud in a monotonous
"school tone." The classes were called forward and
dismissed with, "Rise, pass, be seated," from the
teacher. Reading classes lasted until 10:30 when
school was dismissed for recess. This was fifteen
minutes of free play. What fun! A snack from the
dinner bucket and some uninhibited running and
jumping released the tension and prepared the
children for the hour and fifteen minutes of
numbers, cyphering, and math that followed and
lasted until the 12:00 to 1 :00 lunch period. Lunch
buckets were usually lard buckets. These carried
homemade bread sandwiches, fruit in season, and
once in awhile a cookie or cake. As winter wore
on, lunch might have been bread and molasses and
a jar of cold soup beans. Games consisted of
shinny, ball (using a home-made string ball and a
hedge club), fox and goose, and running and circle
games. If the teacher had time, he or she played
with the children. Pranks, such as filling Hugh
Hillsabecke's boots with water and allowing to
freeze, were punishable quickly and thoroughly to
the tune of a hickory stick. No one questioned the
right of a teacher to whip a child and no one worried
about the psychological effect it would have on the
child, school, or neighborhood. Discipline had to
be maintained or the teacher was marked as lazy
and out of control.
At 1 :00 "books" was resumed. English, geo-
graphy, history, literature, penmanship, and a
smattering of health or physiology made up the
Every other Friday afternoon, if the week
had gone well, from 2:30 until 4:00, the program
was changed or "they had the evening off." This
meant a geography contest, cyphering, or a spell-
Some of the old text books were Beacon Chart,
McGuffey Reader, Young and Field Copy Books,
and Gowdy and Dexheimer English.
Teachers who taught in these early rural
schools in the Strasburg locality were: A. Ensmin-
ger, F. Allen, E. S. Gifford, Maud Flours, Thomas
Robison, Doria Cummins, W. W. McCrory, Nellie
Woris, G. A. Bowman, Emma McCalister, Ethel
Barker, Oscar Storm, Emma Flemming, Fred Grabb,
Hugh Hilsabecke, Fern Lowery, and Lee Frazier.
In 1943, rural schools were consolidated with
urban schools into Unit 5A. Gradually the school
houses and contents have been sold or otherwise
disposed of. Many of the records have disappeared.
Some precious pictures, odd books, and other relics
have been preserved. As with most things of the
past, these objects and memories connected with
them take on the aspects of treasures from a happy
era, gone forever.
ST. PAUL'S LUTHERAN SCHOOL
From the time that the congregation was
organized, St. Paul's Church has maintained a
Christian Day School, so that the children of its
members could receive a thorough training in a
Christian doctrine along with their elementary
education and so that all subjects would be taught
in the light of God's Word. This school was first
held in the church building which was located
about one and one-fourth miles south of town, and
was taught at that time by the Pastor, F. W.
Schlechte, who carried on this duty for about two
years, until the services of a called teacher were
secured. The enrollment the first year is recorded
at forty pupils.
When a new church structure was built at the
south edge of Strasburg in 1876, the school con-
tinued at its first location. Thus, the school and
church were not adjacent for almost eight years.
and pupils taking instruction for confirmation had
to walk to the church and then back to the school.
In 1884, a school building was erected on the
church property about where the present social hall
now stands. Only one teacher had charge of the
pupils during this time, and although the enroll-
ment varied, most of the time it was well over a
hundred, and reached as much as 124. The children
were arranged in two rows at desks and seated on
long benches that held seven pupils. Older and
more advanced students helped with the younger
children. The teacher was usually strict, and the
leather strap, hickory stick, or ruler was never too
far away. For those who didn't know their
lessons, there was the bench in the front dubbed
the "Eselbank", which took the place of the con-
ventional stool and pointed cap. Some teachers
were here for long periods, and some were not, but
the longest tenure of office was held by Teacher
F. W. Toenies, who served for a total of twenty-
two years, and in the latter years was teaching the
children of former pupils.
When a new two-story building was erected
in 1905, the school was divided into upper and
lower grades, and the one-room building became
known as the "Old School House," and still was
very useful as the social hall for meetings of the
various organizations of the church. The teaching
staff was now doubled when a second teacher was
called. Each pupil now had an individual desk
which was equipped with an ink bottle that was
filled from a large jug of blue-black ink provided
by the school. Penmanship was a must, and was
practiced regularly with a pen-holder and "scratch"
pen. These pens were bought at the store down-
town for a penny apiece and were supposed to
work better if they were held in the mouth for a
few minutes to "break them in". The ink was of
the non-washable variety, and fingers and clothing
sometimes acquired some strange new designs. That
may be one reason why dark clothing was worn
most of the time.
St. Paul's School built in 1905.
The "new" school building had a belfry to
house the bell that could be heard to signal the
beginning and ending of the school day, as well as
the recess and noon hour periods. As they
advanced to the upper grades, boys each received
the privilege of a weekly turn at ringing the bell.
The boys in both rooms also carried in coal and
kindling to start the fires in the two coal-burning
stoves and to keep them going during the school
day. These large stoves provided the only heat for
the building until a furnace room was added and a
furnace was installed to heat the two school
rooms, the halls, and stairway. The teachers then
had the responsibility of maintaining the heating
Much of the school work was done on the
blackboards and this created a lot of chalk dust.
The girls were assigned to wash the blackboards
and clean the erasers. This latter was done by
taking all the erasers outside the back door, and
clapping them together.
Since German was the mother tongue of most
of the members when the school was first started,
that was the language used in school for many
years. Later on, religion was learned in both
German and English, as were reading, writing, and
grammar. The pupils who came into school with
no knowledge of German didn't take very well to
these added subjects, and during the mid "20's"
the English language became the only one used.
After the turn of the century, St. Paul's
School reached its highest enrollment, 140 in 1906
and 1907, and maintained a level of more than one
hundred until 1919.
During this time the teaching staff usually
consisted of two male teachers who were installed
into office and also served as church organists.
Among their other congregational duties was that
of choir director or youth leader. Some of the
teachers most remembered are S. C. Brauer, Paul
Potratz, Wm. A. Kramer, R. F. Nordbrock, A. H.
Peters, E. F. Onken, E. H. Lehenbauer, and John
Students carried lunches to school in tin
dinner buckets until 1954 when the school's hot
lunch program was begun.
A third teacher was added to the staff in 1962,
and a temporary classroom was made in the social
hall of the present church. The two-story building
was taken down in the spring of 1964 and was re-
placed by the present stone structure which is
connected to the church. This new school was
dedicated in 1964, and contains three classrooms,
furnace room with gas furnace, principal's office,
multi-purpose room, and work room.
St. Paul's School maintains high academic
standards, and is state accredited. Pupils graduating
from eighth grade receive a diploma from the county
superintendent in addition to one from the con-
gregation, and many are on the honor roll in high
school and college. The present enrollment is
forty-one, and Mr. Ricardo F lores is principal.
One of the highlights former pupils will
remember with nostalgia were the picnics which
were held on Sunday following the close of the
(continued on page 53)
Basketball team of 1921
22. Left to right are:
Harold York, Orval Engel,
Max Weber, Bryan Ren-
shaw, Olin Kull, Lauren
Hamm.and Kenneth Boling.
Hoop Drill by Upper Grades at St.
Paul's School 1915 16. Pupils in
front row: Cona Risser, Gilbert
Ulmer, Clara Mueller, Frieda Rincker,
and Florence Stremming.
St. Paul's pupils grades 1-4
in 1924. Front row:
Alfred Giertz, Clark Schmitt,
Or vi lie Lenz, Nolen Biehler,
Melvard Diepholz, Honore
Lenz, Carl Mueller, Ralph
Schimmel, Curtis Oster-
meier, Murice Ruff, Eugene
Bauer, Carl Buesking. Sec-
ond row, seated: Valeria
Noffke, Dorothy Strem-
ming, Deloris Buesking,
Mary Brauer, Ruth Schroe-
der, Beulah Doehring,
Sylvia Mueller, Johanna
Meyer. Third row: Leona
Ruff, Nita Vogel, Etta Reel,
Erwin Lenz, Harry Doeh-
ring, Herbert Mueller, Roy
Rincker, Lucille Ruff,
Lucille Myer, Teacher, Paul
St. Paul's pupils, lower grades— 1946.
Front: Roger Nippe, Gaylord Unruh,
David Schmitt, Gaylord Stremming,
Frankie Brandt, Leverett Doehring,
Melvin Lenz. Second Row: Richard
Doehring, Paul Pieper, Larry Lenz,
Frederick Buesking, Michael Weber,
Leon Ruwe, Arnold Schlechte, Curtis
Von Behren, James Nippe. Standing:
Esther Cress, Caroline Lading, Chris-
tine Stremming, Nancy Reed, Shirley
Pieper, Vera Ulmer, Shirley Doehring,
E. F. Onken, Beverly Frede, Marjorie
Ulmer, Beverly Lading, Neva Lenz,
Donna Lou Frede.
St. Paul's, upper grades— 1946. Front
row: Glen Pieper, Gene Lading,
Charles Doehring, Ralph Buesking,
Kermit Ruwe, Keith Stremming,
James Stremming, Glen Spannagel,
Harold Kircher. Second row: Richard
Pfeiffer, Delbert Ulmer, Lawrence
Stremming, George Buesking, Wm.
Buesking, Eugene Pieper, Clyde
Stremming, Arthur Buesking, Wayne
Wirth, Kenneth Pieper. Standing:
Robert Pfeiffer, Wayne Buesking,
George Schlechte, Kenneth Von
Behren, Alma Cress, Margaret Kircher,
Doris Onken, Loretta Lenz, Beulah
Stremming, Bertha Lenz, Ruth Meyer,
A. F. Winterstein, Mary Jane Lading,
Laveta Stremming, Ruth Pieper,
Dorothy Rincker, Joyce Weber,
Retha Buesking, Bettie Schlechte,
Grace Spannagel, Robert Stremming.
Pupils of St. Paul's -1966.
(continued from page 50)
school year, which in earliest years came at the
Fourth of July. At first the picnics were held in
the woods a few miles away, and all would join in
a parade to the grounds. Later they were held in
the grove of trees behind the school building. A
refreshment stand was erected, and became the
most popular place on the grounds for buying ice
cream cones, pop, hamburgers or hot dogs, and
many novelties in great quantities throughout the
afternoon and evening. Besides serving as a reunion
for friends and families, the picnics provided
entertainment for the large crowds in attendance.
A program was given by each room, one in the
afternoon and one in the evening, with a band to
provide music between times. At one period of
time, Allen's merry-go-round was a much enjoyed
part of the day, and all the pupils were given a free
"trial" ride on Friday after watching the process of
setting up the many pieces of machinery which
made up this wonderful piece of entertainment.
Races and contests were provided for each grade
and all the new clothes were initiated. Times and
changes brought an end to these festivities. The
P.T.L. members now have a potluck dinner on
the last Sunday in the school year, and each room
entertains in the afternoon.
The Wabash Railroad track ran along the west
side of the school grounds, and the trains came and
went on their daily schedule without too much
distraction. However, on one particular December
day in 1931 the engineer blew a series of short
blasts on the whistle, which may have been a fire
alarm in railroad language. At any rate, it attracted
attention so that a fire on the roof of the school
house was discovered, and firemen were called in
time to put out the blaze without too much
damage. No one was injured, but it took the rest
of the year to straighten things out. It's been said
that the blackboards were damp for several weeks
STRASBURG PUBLIC SCHOOL HISTORY
The Northwest Ordinance in 1789 stated that
each township in Illinois must provide a school for
its children. Accordingly, in 1832, the first school-
house was erected in Richland Township where
the old townhouse is now located. It was built of
round hickory logs with greased paper windows to
admit the light, and here the students came to
learn their readin', writin', and 'rithmetic.
About forty years later a second school house
was built on the site just west of where the Grace
Lutheran Church now stands. It was a one room
frame structure similar to the old one room rural
school where one teacher taught all the grades.
Strasburg was growing, so in 1895 a four room
brick building was erected two blocks north of the
old school. This showed foresight on the part of
the school board, for at first only two rooms were
needed. At this time there were only two teachers,
and one of these served as principal. In 1904 a
third room was put to use. The teaching staff had
grown to three: Bertha Hoese (York), Ethel
Barker (Duncan), and Frank White, who later be-
came County Superintendent of Schools in Shelby
County, and was noted for his ability to call the
students throughout the county by name.
Older members of our community still
chuckle about the pranks sometimes played on the
teachers. One Halloween the janitor, A. A. Beck,
was the object of tricksters' fun. He went out to
milk his cow, and not finding her, he went on to
school. There she was - in the school!
Spelling bees were afternoon treats for stu-
dents, with Friday afternoon activities being the
highlight of the week. Classes put on special pro-
grams for the entertainment of other classes, and
teachers and pupils alike enjoyed this break in
routine. Holiday programs, school plays, costum-
ing on Halloween, fall carnivals, and last days of
school, are fond memories of many.
As the need for more schooling became
apparent, it was decided to establish a two year
high school, and the upstairs of the building was
used by these older students. First graduates from
the two year school in 1907 were Nellie Metzler,
Bruce Curry, and Walter Wiandt.
Some students graduated from the eighth
grade at the parochial school and were confirmed,
and then they attended eighth grade at the public
school, preferring that to entering high school. Per
haps it was as Bill Faster used to remark, "The folks
would send the kids back to school for another
year mostly because there wasn't much else to do."
By 1920 Strasburg boasted a three year high
school. The two teachers on the staff were C. F.
Sheets, principal and teacher, and Wade Steel.
English, algebra, civics, and history were the
The four room building was bulging at the
seams by 1923. More and more people were pro-
longing their education through the eleventh grade.
To solve the problem, a temporary white frame
building was constructed on the west side of the
school. That fall the high school students moved
into the new building promptly dubbed "The
Within two years the old brick school had
completely disappeared, and in its place stood a
new one which would solve (hopefully) all future
overcrowding problems. Down with the sheep-
shed! Everyone moved into the fine new building
with its basement floor consisting of two play-
rooms, a furnace room, and two restrooms. On the
first floor were three classrooms and a teacher's
workroom. The high school occupied the top
floor with a large assembly, three classrooms, and
a principal's office.
In 1927-28 J. C. Lucas was listed as principal
and teacher. Mr. H. T. Jackson and a Mr. Schafer
also taught at this time. Ruth Nippe and Bertha
York taught the fifty-two elementary students.
There were thirty-three in the three year high
In 1930 students graduated from the three
year high school, but during the summer the
fourth year of schooling was added. Some 1930
graduates returned to school in the fall and were
graduated again in 1931 , this time from a four year
high school. Graduation ceremonies were held in
various town buildings and halls, or in churches.
Prior to the four year high school, students wishing
to continue their education had to board in nearby
Shelbyville, Sullivan, or Windsor, and attend classes
there, or ride "Green's Train" to school. Enroll-
ment in 1934 was fifty-eight in the high school, and
forty-three in the grades, with John DeLaurenti
serving as superintendent of both.
Despite the handicap of no gym, Strasburg
boasted a fine basketball team. Practice was held
in a field north of the school. Ballgames were
played, not at night, but after school in the great
outdoors "gym." Transportation to other games
was difficult. When playing Windsor, our players
often boarded the Wabash, played the game, and
then walked back home.
As a W.P.A. project in 1939, a fine gym-
nasium was constructed and the athletic program
was expanded. This gym was named "Duling
Gymnasium" after Alf Duling, who had been
school board president for years and was instru-
mental in obtaining this structure for the district.
Board members when the gym was dedicated were
Dick Storm, Orville Engel, and G. C. York.
(continued on page 59)
Strasburg Public School built 1895.
"Sheepshed" used for high school in the 1920'
Inside the "Sheepshed", row 1:
Fred Lading, Luella Kull, Agnes
Ulmer, Bertha Stremming, Dor-
othy Hicks, Everett Richards,
Clifford Stilabower. Row 2:
Luella Spannagel, Agnes Binga-
man, Bernadine Berkhart, Floyd
Weber, Alice Kull (Ulmer), Esther
Kull, Mae Luce, Leonard Mueller,
Ralph Martin, Row 3: Florence
Spannagel, Lois Martin, Maurice
Buesking, Lulu Young, Kenneth
York, Dorothy Swigart, Floyd
Ulmer, Howard Kearney, Roy
Renshaw, Everett Renshaw. Row
4: Emma Spannagel, Helen Bon-
net, Laura Kull, Lona Bingaman,
Gail Rankin, Orville Klump.
Class of 1931 -First four year high school grad-
uates: seated: Marie Weber, Charles Bingaman,
Beulah Renshaw. Standing: Pearl Schroeder,
Eugene Rankin, Beulah Williams, Basil Metzler,
Lorene Diepholz, Donald Storm, Virginia Stern.
Strasburg Public School and Gym.
Upper grades of Strasburg Public School,
1922. First tow: Bernadine Burkhart,
Dorothy Hicks, Fred Gill, Raymond
Schwartz, Agnes Bingaman, Vera Metzler.
Second row: Lois fvlartin, Andrew
Bullerman, Geneva Kull, Gervase Duling,
Fredia Bullerman. Top row: Helen Bonnet,
Clarence Ruff, Floyd Weber, Joe Raw-
lings, Mary Burkhart. Teacher: Mrs.
1923 Basketball team, front row: Clifford
Stilabower, Howard Kearney, Everett Ren-
shaw, Maurice Buesking, Leonard Mueller.
Back row: Floyd Weber, Everett Richards,
Kenneth York, Arlie O. Brien.
Strasburg School District's first school bus
and Carl Buesking, driver-1943.
Ball team of 1928-29. At left is Coach Leroy Baker with players of the
"outdoor gym" era: Ralph Lading, Dale York, Harold Russell, Donald Storm,
Morris Griffith, Basil Metzler, Charles Bingaman.
Strasburg School students-picture from the 1947 Hourglass.
Staff of the 1936 Reminiscencer,
Strasburg high school year book.
Left to right are: Woodrow
Wilson, Ruby Doeding, Ruby
Culver, Olin Wirth, Grayce Schroe-
der, Evelyn Ruth Storm, and
1954 S-S Basketball Squad with a
record of twenty-seven wins and four
losses. They won second in National
Trail Tourney, third in Shelby County
Tourney, and first in State Regional
Tourney, finishing at the top of the
National Trail Conference. Seated:
Wayne Wirth, Art Buesking, Dwight
Friese, Floyd Storm, Van Anderson,
John Moomaw, Slug Unruh. Standing:
John T. Middlesworth, Bill Engel,
Ralph Allsop, Ron Webb, Frankie
Brandt, Bob Mathews, Kenton Ash-
enbramer, Harry Ray Bivins, James
Whitlatch School pupils with
Oscar Storm, teacher.
Richland School Dist. 107-1913. First
row: Troy Blythe, Orval Kull, Tom
Price, Lawerence Jones, Clarence Robb,
Carl Delp, Carl Pfeiffer, Harry Sporleder,
Elmer Doehring, Loyd Spurgin. Second
row: Glenn Caskey, Festus Waymire,
Fred Siren, Ruby Sporleder, Florence
Spurgin, Leah Lading, Gletha Jackson,
Ruby Siren, Mary Cress, Celia Kull,
Florence Lading, Helen Jones, Rosetta
Spurgin, Clara Lading. Third row: Tobe
Kircher Walter Jones, Walter Schrimpf.
Elza Caskey, Glenn Waymire, Iva Robb,
Grace Doehring, Rosie Krile, Anna
Pfeiffer, Nellie Griffin, Esther Doehring.
Fourth row: Sam Sharpless, Howard
Cakey, Hobart Jones, Harry Robb,
Elbert Griffin, Frieda Engel (teacher),
Floyd Robb, Howard Price, Albert
(continued from page 54)
The first schoolbus was purchased in 1941,
and in December of that year students were trans-
ported to school for the first time. Carl Buesking,
first bus driver, picked up pupils east of the high-
way, dropped them off at school, and then ran a
western route. Before this time, many students
attended rural centers of learning, and the town
students, naturally, walked to school.
In 1941 board members now numbered five:
Lauren Hamm, Orville Engel, Everett Storm, Fred
Rincker, and Glen Radloff. Leonard Hewitt was
Principals following Hewitt include Walter
Wilson and L. T. Elam. Some of the teachers in
the Strasburg High School in the 1940's were
Sylvia Diel, Dorthy Anderman, John T. Middles-
worth, Marie Weber, Jack Young, Thelma Thomp-
son, Nona Bell Cruise, Paul Barnes, Mrs. Porter, and
Charles Kell (who was drafted during the school
year.) Graduates of 1944 remember that some
boys in the class quit to go into service, and so did
not graduate. During this period, seventh and
eighth grade pupils had a fine course of study,
including shop for the boys and home economics
for the girls.
County superintendents always paid un-
announced visits to the classes two or three times
during the schoolyear. Each teacher and his
room tried to put their best foot forward when
"visitors" came. J. Kenneth Roney, county super-
intendent from 1939 to 1951, recalls Strasburg as
a school which never had serious problems as some
of the others did.
In the late 1940's the high school that had
seemed so large was becoming pretty crowded.
State regulations made consolidation necessary
among smaller school districts, and Strasburg was
faced with a difficult decision. The entire com-
munity was concerned. Should we combine with
another town to form a new district, or lose our
own territory completely to encroaching districts?
Some discussed combining with Windsor schools.
A decision was finally reached. We would unite
with Stewardson and Mode to form a unit to be
known as Stewardson-Strasburg Unit District 5A.
Some local linguists suggested we combine the
name into either Stewburg or Strasson, but the
long, unwieldy name is still used, although the
common title is shortened to S-S.
A bond issue for a new school building carried
in November of 1949. Twenty acres of land was
purchased midway between the two towns, and
the cornerstone for the new S-S Community Unit
High School was laid September 22, 1950. The
first superintendent of this consolidated unit was
J. Harold Diel.
For a time the high school students were
divided, with the freshmen and sophomores attend-
ing a temporary center in the old Stewardson school
building, and the juniors and seniors of the district
housed at Strasburg. The hot lunch program began
now in 1951, with Martha Hood and Effie Wheat
hired as first cooks at Strasburg. A modern
kitchen was made in the south dressing room near
The move to the new school building was
finally made, and the entire high school was united
in October, 1951. Now the unit junior high
attendance center, with Roscoe Hash as principal,
was at Strasburg in the top floor of the building,
while grades one through six attended school in
their own towns. A lower grade school was main-
tained at Mound School until about 1950, and
Mode was used until 1960.
The last step in the school building program
was taken in 1967. After construction of a new
elementary center added to the high school plant,
all students in the unit, kindergarten through senior
high school, were bussed to the same building.
Stewardson-Strasburg Unit District 5A now
covers 112 square miles and student enrollment
totals 521, of which number 192 pupils are in the
high school and 329 children are enrolled in grade
school. There is an approximate yearly payroll of
$436,000.00, with a staff of thirty-six certified
personnel. Four cooks and three helpers work in
the cafeteria each school day; seven bus drivers are
employed; four secretaries and four janitors are on
the payroll. The newest additions to the curriculum
are an art program and a high school building
trades program, through which a home is being
built in Stewardson. Unit superintendent is Lloyd
T. Elam. High school principal is Donald P.
Harrison, and Ralph Buesking is elementary princi-
The first Strasburg school boards consisted of
three members, and some of the earliest members
include Reuben Spannagel, Rol Bartlett, Harry
York, Martin Pfeiffer, and Alf Duling. Later the
Stewardson-Strasburg Community Unit 5A.
board was made up of five members. In 1951, at
the time of consolidation, unit board members
were Roy Rincker, Albert Vonderheide, Ed Reel,
Clarence Wittenberg, G. A. Brummerstedt, Arthur
Krumreich, and Glen Garrett. Present board mem-
bers are Fred Gallagher, Joe Moomaw, Derry York,
Bob Bridges, Charles Kessler, Gene Ohnesorge, and
Strasburg's schools have a history filled with
many outstanding teachers and dedicated board
members. The names mentioned in this writing are
but a few of these. A love of learning has always
been a gift of the school system to the children
of Strasburg throughout the years.
"For God and Country"
The community of Strasburg has always done
its part when our country was engaged in war
activity. During World War I, not only did it give
time and money, but it gave the best of her boys.
Patriotism was shown by the citizens who respond-
ed to the Liberty Loan Drives, for the people were
really awakened to their government's needs. The
Red Cross worked regularly to send supplies to the
soldiers and provided a comfort kit to each boy as
he left for camp. Socks and sweaters were knitted
and sent to the men in service. Of the scores of
Red Cross Members during World War i. Left to right:
Nora Weber, Ida Weber, Myrtle Ulmer, Aurora Hamm,
Lydia Faster, Lizzie Ulmer, Oma Kull, Tillie Storm.
men who went from the community, four gave
their lives for their country. The first casualty,
Henry C. Lading, lost his life in the torpedoing of
the transport, Moldavia, as he. was crossing to
France. Andrew E. Ruff was killed during the
battle on the Hindenburg Line. Frederick W. Nippe
contracted bronchial pneumonia after leaving an
American port and died on the high seas! Henry
Fred Pieper died of pneumonia after eight months
in service at the base hospital at Camp Taylor,
As the boys returned from the battle fields of
Europe, heroes were found among them. Elmer P.
Richards is the most decorated man in Shelby
County, having received three medals, the Dis-
tinguished Service Cross after being wounded, and
two French decorations, the Meadille Millitair, and
Croix de Guerre with Palm. Susa Risser was official-
ly cited for valiant service. Harley Gill was wound-
ed slightly, and Herman Doehring was gassed and
had to spend several weeks in the hospital. All the
young men who served during World War I were
patriots, bravely doing their part for peace and
Because of war raging in Europe, the first
American peacetime draft act became law on
September 16, 1940. A Selective Service System
was set up and the young men of Strasburg com-
munity soon were called into the armed forces for
training. On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941,
when the alarming news of the bombing of Pearl
Harbor was announced over the radio, our country
became involved in war with Japan, and sub-
sequently with Germany. Now our service men
who soon could have been returning home had
their time extended unitl six months after the end
of World War II. Nearly all able-bodied young men
in the community left their homes to serve their
country, and many took an active part in the con-
flicts in the European or Pacific war areas. An
Honor Roll Board containing the names of all those
in service, was erected in a prominent place along
the highway. Two young men of Strasburg paid
Honor Roll of Strasburg's service men in World War II.
the supreme price by giving their lives. Kenneth
Wilson, at age of twenty-three, was lost at sea in
the Mediterranean with his entire company when
his ship was hit by an aerial torpedo on April 20,
1944. Clarence Baumgarten, a tail gunner in a
bomber, was missing in action when his plane was
lost over Europe. After almost thirty years, the
wreckage of the plane was found and his identifi-
cation confirmed. Melvard Deipholz was wounded
and left for dead on the battlefield of Okinawa.
Later he was found, taken to Tinnea, and then
flown to California. He was brought to Great Lakes
Naval Station for surgery and was discharged in
April. After only four months at home, he became
ill with malaria and then pneumonia, and died in
July. Earl Daniels was wounded and captured and
held prisoner by the Germans. Strasburg also had
several young women who joined the service during
World War II.
Not only was the absence of the boys noticed
at home, but people left at home were made aware
in other ways that the war was going on. Food,
gasoline, shoes, end many other items were limited.
All families had to register, and a ration book was
issued for each member. According to need, gaso-
line stamps were apportioned to drivers of cars.
These were valid for a certain period. Then a new
series of stamps was issued, and the old ones were
useless. Stickers reading "Is this trip really neces-
sary?" were available to be put on the dash or
inside the windshields of cars. Everyone was urged
to plant a Victory Garden to supply more food.
Empty tin cans, toothpaste tubes and cigarette
packs were to be saved and turned in for collection.
For better handling, the cans were to have both
ends cut out and the cans smashed flat with the
two ends placed inside. The tubes and cigarette
packs were saved for the lead and tinfoil. Sugar for
canning was allotted according to need, and many
began to can fruit without sugar. Whenever such
scarce items as rayon hose or facial tissues did be-
come available, a long line of customers would form
in hopes that the supply would last until they
reached the front of the line. War Bond drives
were held to encourage people to invest their
money to help carry out the heavy expenses.
Waste was discouraged, and everyone was urged to
patch clothes and conserve everything possible. A
slogan was put out that all were asked to follow:
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
Volunteers await their turn to donate
blood to the Red Cross blood bank.
Strasburg has always been proud of their
blood donation records. Over the years
they have repeatedly met their quota.
Both pictures depict one of the blood
banks held in the 1940's in Strasburg -r*
High School Gym.
It is said that World War II killed more people,
cost more money, damaged more property, and
affected more persons than any other war. The war
ended on September 2, 1945, and special services
were held in the local churches to mark the event.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and
fighting ended on July 27, 1953. Although this
was not a declared war, many men from the com-
munity were drafted or enlisted in the armed forces,
for the United States rushed great numbers of troops
and supplies to the aid of the South Koreans. The
Korean War was one of the bloodiest in history, but
Strasburg had no casualties.
With the drafting of young men continuing,
the community could hardly realize when the
Korean conflict ended and the Viet Nam fighting
began. Strasburg was well represented with enlist-
ments and drafting. It was a hard decision for a
high school graduate to plan on a further education
or to enlist and serve his country. David Boyer was
wounded in action and he received the Bronze Star
for valor in action and also the Purple Heart. Steve
Giertz was wounded in action and received the
Purple Heart, and also the Air Medal for more
than 100 air assaults. In one month he took part
in ninety air assaults. He received the Combat
Infantry Badge and the Viet Nam Campaign and
Service Medals. Ronald Cress received the Army
Commendation Medal for bravery. During the year
of 1973, this war has ended and most of our young
men have returned home. Our hope is for a lasting
peace as a reward for all those who courageously
fought for our country.
As the 1930's came along, they brought the
depression. Strasburg and its community suffered
the same as everywhere else. Prices went way
down and there was a lot of unemployment. This
indeed was a sad time for many people. Some lost
their life savings and even those who had always
had plenty, almost became destitute. Corn was
down to ten or twelve cents a bushel; beans down
to thirty-three cents; fat hogs were two to two and
a half cents a pound in Indianapolis; fat cattle were
down to three to three and a half cents. In some
cases an old sow or thin cow didn't even pay the
Hired labor on the farm was a dollar a day or
twenty-six dollars a month. Corn shucking was one
cent a bushel. Broom corn cutters received ten
cents ah hour. Gasoline was ten cents a gallon and
some customers bought it by the dime's worth.
Others charged it when they didn't have the dime.
A plate lunch could be bought for twenty-five
cents including the drink. Sandwiches were a
A Chevrolet sport roadster with rumble seat
was priced at $495. F.O.B. Ford cars ranged from
$430. -$630. F.O.B.
Coal was $3.50 a ton at the mine. However,
some people having plenty of time and no money,
went in "groups and did some strip-mining in the
Trowbridge area. The coal was of very poor quality
but the people did manage to keep warm.
Money was so tight that in January of 1932,
President Hoover made a plea to the nation, "Put
hoarded money in circulation."
In spite of hard times, the federal government
raised the postage on a letter from two to three
cents, July 1, 1932.
During 1932, twenty-four persons in Shelby
County were subjected to bankruptcy proceedings.
Illinois led in farm bankruptcies at one time. A
farm in the Middlesworth area was sold for $27.50
an acre. One in the Mayflower area sold for $21 .00
The federal government passed a bill known as
the McNary-Haugen Bill in 1932. This was a farm
program to try to ease the crisis among farm people.
It had various phases, but the one most remembered
was the hog or pig program. Hogs were so cheap,
the government bought little pigs, killed them, and
made them into tankage. This program wasn't
accepted very well among the people of this
vicinity. They couldn't bear the thought of wasting
this meat. However, farmers who sold their" pigs to
the government, got more money than the man
who ted his corn to the hogs and then marketed
In April of 1932, Shelby County received
40,000 pounds of flour made from government
wheat. It was distributed to the needy, through the
Red Cross. Dr. Schroeder, of Strasburg, head of
the Red Cross in this area, distributed these twenty-
five pound sacks.
The federal government set up an agency
officially known as Emergency Conservation Work,
but later it changed to the more popular name of
Civilian Conservation Corps or C.C.C., in April 1933.
This program was to provide employment among
needy families; specifically for unmarried men
between the age of seventeen and twenty-three.
Several boys of this community received employ-
ment in this way. The government paid thirty
dollars a month. The boys received five dollars and
twenty-five dollars was sent to their folks. To
name a few projects carried out in this area: a grove
of black locust was planted to check erosion on a
farm, now owned by Ralph Reel; another such pro-
gram was carried out on a farm that was and still is
owned by Rozetta Fling; dams were built to stop
erosion on a farm now known as the Schmitt Estate;
multiflora rose was planted on the Raymond
Schultz farm. The only cost, to the owner for this
work, was the material used.
On May 6, 1935, the federal government set
up another program known as Work Projects
Administration or W.P.A. This program was to
cope with unemployment brought on by the
depression. Nearly a fifth of the nation's workers
who otherwise would have been on relief, benefited
in this program. Several from this area received
work in this way. They were paid fifty-seven dollars
a month. In this community, a road was graveled
from the west edge of town, west to the township
line. At least four bridges were built in this area by
W.P.A. labor, as was the gymnasium on the old high
school in 1939. The government paid all labor and
for a certain amount of material used in all projects.
This program was phased out at the end of June,
Clubs of Yesteryear
During World War I when the local boys were
away and the village girls had nothing to do, the
Crochet Club was organized. They held meetings in
the evenings until around 1920. Members included:
Etta Risser, Lena Wilson, Drucella Kull, Agnes
Keller, Lydia Faster, Elsie Siering, Rosie Ruff, Cora
Ruff, Lula Ruwe, Mathilda Doehring, Emma Henne,
Clara Bauer, Elsie Nippe, Rosa Risser, Rosie Bauer,
and Lottie Schmitt.
Records were found of a club in Strasburg's
history that lasted only five months in 1895.
Elaborate by-laws governed the "Marquette Club",
which began with fourteen members and soon
grew to thirty. Officers were Joseph Lowary, Pete
York, Pete Wallace, and Ed Storm. After holding
weekly social meetings and sponsoring a couple
platform dances, the club records were stopped
and no further record of the group can be located.
Stitch and Chatter Club
Many of the ladies of Strasburg spent after-
noons sewing and doing handiwork, either for
themselves or for others. In 1924 three ladies:
Maye Storm (mother of Rip Storm), Jenny Martin,
and Nellie Bingaman began an afternoon Stitch and
Chatter Club in order to enjoy others' company as
they worked. At first only a handful of women
attended. Later there were twenty-five or thirty
ladies listed as members, who took their sewing
baskets to meet at each other's homes for work,
"gossip", and refreshments. After the day's stitch-
ing was put aside, the hostess served and the school
children dropped in, just in time to snack, of
course. Members included current pastor's wives,
teacher's wives, and local seamstresses. The group
remained active until the late 1960's.
Parent- Teacher Association
In Strasburg's early history, the entire town
used the schoolhouse as a gathering place for social
events. Spelling bees, geography matches, orations,
debates, and plays were monthly entertainment for
students and adults alike.
From these gatherings arose a loosely-knit
group known as the Strasburg Parent-Teacher
Organization which preferred not to be bound by
the formal national P.T.A. Teachers with their
pupils prepared programs throughout the year, and
local parents presented plays, quizzes, and other
forms of entertainment at the monthly meetings.
Refreshments were served, and large crowds attend-
ed. Younger children crowded on the lower
bleachers, stamping their feet in approval as their
older brothers and sisters performed. Students
gained poise and stage presence in these produc-
tions, and it became a part of the learning process,
as well as a fine opportunity for townspeople to
become familiar with their school. Membership
fees were ten cents a year, and the entire town was
canvassed. Community-school relations were at a
high, with school doors "open" and all welcomed.
In 1952 the new Stewardson-Strasburg High
School was opened, and the parent-teacher group
was re-evaluated. The parents now joined the
national organization, and 136 charter members
formed the S-S Parent-Teacher Association. First
officers were: Floyd Swank, president; Maurine
Kull, vice-president; Marcella Brummerstedt, secre-
tary; Charles Augenstein, treasurer. Following pre-
sidents were: Fred Patterson, Velma Weber, Orville
Engel, Mabel Keller, Charles Quast, John Warren,
and Vera Alwardt.
This group worked closely with the schools
for ten years, but in 1962 they disbanded. Many
worthwhile programs were presented including
lectures by state police officers and the first woman
Illinois Cabinet officer. Taking part in the state
scholarship program, this unit was proud of two
district scholarship winners from our school:
Yvonne Brandt (1956) and Patsy Kessler (1958).
Nutrition classes for adults were sponsored by the
P.T.A. , and various money raising projects were
held to further school activities.
Later, other attempts at forming parent groups
have been made, but at the present, no such group
Senior Citizens' Club
Thirty interested area senior citizens organized
in the Strasburg Community Building in October,
1971. Monthly meetings are held with a potluck
dinner being served. Although the group meets
primarily to have a good time, on some occasions
topics are presented or travel slides are shown.
First officers were: Merle Buesking, Rufus Kull,
and Frieda Lading.
The club is still growing. Fifty or sixty people
enjoy attending each month.
Nineteen men of the community charted the
Strasburg Lions' Club in February, 1956. They
were: Leslie Drake, Lloyd T. Elam, Fred Gill,
Oscar Hood, James Jeffers, Don Keller, Ivan Keller,
Walter Keller, Ken Knop, Frank Laurent, Don
Lowry, Robert Merriman, Dale Rincker, Leon
Ruwe, Glenn Schauberger, James D. Sheehan, Milo
Smith, Don Webner, and Dale York.
Annual events sponsored include the Stras-
burg Homecoming each summer, the June Chicken
Fry, Santa's Christmas visit, fruit distribution to
the home-bound to those who live alone, and the
summer ball program at the park.
Monies raised by club projects go toward
community improvements and to national club
projects. The park pavilion was one of the first
club projects; and the local Lions, along with the
American Legion Post 289, are responsible for the
new Community Building erected in 1971.
Men who have served as president are: Ken
Knop, Don Lowry, Ivan Keller, Gene Kull, B. C.
Stilabower, Roy Rincker, Delbert Stremming, Silas
Boyer, Clarence Buesking, Carl Buesking, Larry
Lenz, Guy Juhnke, and presently, Bob Falk.
Strasburg Lions' Club has grown steadily and
present enrollment is sixty-one members.
Strasburg Unit of the Shelby County
Memorial Hospital Auxiliary
Many of our townspeople used the Shelby
County Memorial Hospital at Shelbyville, and there
developed an interest in Strasburg in supporting
the hospital. Shelbyville auxiliary members talked
to Strasburg ladies and on April 1, 1963, the'Stras-
burg Unit of the Shelby County Memorial Hospital
Auxiliary was organized with three members. They
were: Mrs. Carl Buesking, Mrs. John Neunaber, and
Mrs. Floyd Weber. By the end of that year, they
grew to six members as Mrs. David Schultz, Mrs.
Walter Schwane, and Mrs. Elizabeth Diepholz joined.
Membership currently is thirty-five to forty ladies.
The Strasburg Unit does all it can to expand
the services of the hospital and to aid the new
Medical Center. Several members do hospital
volunteer work, tray favors are donated, birthday
flowers are presented to patients, and community
fund-raising events are sponsored. All proceeds go
to the hospital.
The local square dance group consists of about
twenty couples of Strasburg. They hold dances
twice monthly in the Community Building. Any
square dancer is welcome, and crowds sometimes
number nearly one hundred. Local couples take
turns hosting the affair, and finger foods are pro-
vided by Strasburg dancers.
Various callers are featured on the yearly
schedule of the dance group.
4-H in Strasburg
The first 4-H club in Strasburg is reported to
be the "St. Paul's Busy Bee Sewing Club", started
in 1925 with Mrs. Schroeder as leader. Members
were Marie Weber, Pearl Schroeder, Nita Vogel,
Oma Lading, Eda Roellig, Leona Ruff, and Leta
Roellig. Other leaders of this group were Mrs.
Anna Wirth, Grayce Schroeder, Florence Lading,
and Faye E. Webner.
Throughout the years there have been more
than 350 members involved in various 4-H activities
in the Strasburg area.
In 1929the"Lucky Four Leaf" club is recorded
with Mamie Kircher as leader. Mrs. Eliza Falk led
the "Flying Needle" club in 1935.
According to 4-H records, the "Homemakers
Club" began in 1937 with Lena Wilson as leader.
Other adults who helped this club are: Martha
Hood, Ava Jean Griffith, Mrs. Honore Lenz, and
In 1944 Mrs. May Richards led the group
named the "Happy Healthy Helping Hands". Mrs.
Vernie Doehring also helped this group, which was
last listed in 1949.
The "Richland Merrymakers" was led by Mrs.
Wm. Smith, Jr. and by Maurine Krile in the 1940's.
Lillian Lenz led the "Willing Workers" in
1948. Other leaders listed are: Viola Lueck, Mrs.
Fred Krile, Mrs. A. Goldberger, Wanda Ensign,
Martena Elam, Patsy Lenz, Chris Storm, Kathryn
Schmitt, Mary Keller, Sandra Figgins, Roberta
Ensign, Carol Schmitt, Helen Smith, Norma Rose
Crutcher, Lila Storm, Karen Glawatz, and Maxine
In 1960 Betty Lowry organized the "Bonnie
Belles". Helen Smith, Mrs. Wilbur Waters, Grace
Kull, Patsy Lenz, Ruby Krile, Marilyn Patterson,
and Gail Rincker have helped with this group.
Dale Rincker and John Smith began the
"Strasburg 4-H Stars" in 1968. Dave Smith has also
helped lead this club.
Presently the two clubs in the area are the
"Bonnie Belle" club with twenty-three members,
led by Gail Rincker, and the "Tailtwisters", with
seventeen members led by Dale Rincker.
The Richland Unit of the Shelby County Home
Bureau was instituted in September, 1936, at the
home of Mrs. Willie Smith, near Strasburg. First
officers were: Mrs. Willie Smith, chairman; Mrs.
Oscar Storm, vice-chairman; Miss Mamie Kircher,
secretary-treasurer. This group was automatically
a part of the county, state, and national group.
In 1962 the county organization name was
changed, and the local group became the Richland
Homemaker's Extension Unit.
Many tours, trips, and educational activities
highlight the unit's projects.
Although the unit serves in the annual 4-H
and Junior Fair food stand, the group is not as
active as formerly. Several charter members, ages
eighty to ninety-two belong, but cannot participate
in all programs. Current attendance includes:
Ethel Duncan, Maye Krile, Addie Richards, Bertha
Storm, Mary Ulmer, Viola Ruff, Louise Gill ins,
Lena Weber, Frieda Brehmer, Mary Krile, Marie
Rincker, Nina Widdersheim, Velma Weber, and
American Legion Post 289
The Liberty Post of the American Legion was
organized in Strasburg in 1919. The first Com-
mander was Edwin H. Faster, and first Adjutant
was Charles Throckmorton.
The first members, including charter members,
were: Harley Gill, Henry Popendieker, Charles
Wilson, Fred Popendieker, Charles Throckmorton,
Charles Rosine, George E. Kull, Martin Mueller,
Martin Tieman, Edward Doeding, Nelson Ruff,
Herman Doehring, Martin Nippe, Charles Williams,
Theo. Von Behren, Arthur Unruh, Glen Waymire,
Edwin Ruwe, Albin Foelsing, Lawrence Kendall,
M. G. Ulmer, Gus Cress, Ed Ostermeier, Phillip
Tieman, Otto Arnald, Ed Hartman, Robert Cress,
Arthur Gritzmaker, Bruce Curry, Chris Kircher, J.
Harvey Friesner, Carl Gatchell, Ray Russell, Cleo
Whitlatch,Wm. Hellman, Ralph Navis, Edwin Faster,
Orville Blue, and Wm. Mueller. Veterans with
fifty years of continuous membership recently
received life-time memberships from the post.
After World War II, the membership reached
a high of 115. Legion meetings were held at
various places for years until 1958 when a Legion
Home was purchased. It was on Commercial
Street where the Community Building now is. This
meeting place was open to all charitable organiza-
tions. In 1971, the Legion donated $4,000.00 and
the site for the Community Building to the town.
The Legion supports many worthy programs.
The post is especially interested in the hospitalized
war veteran and the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors
Children's Home at Normal.
Many community projects are supported by
Legion Post 289. The ballpark, built by the Legion
was turned over after its completion to Strasburg.
The Little Boys' Softball League and the County
Baseball League was started by the Legion. Post
289, along with Stewardson, supports the S-S
American Legion Baseball team. Local Boy Scouts
and Cub Scouts are sponsored by the Legion. Each
year a boy is sent to Boy's State, and school medals
are awarded to graduates. A yearly Halloween
festival and a spring community sale are held. The
Legion sponsors Liberty Amusements which owns
carnival rides, and this is a summer money-making
American Legion Auxiliary Liberty Unit 289
The American Legion Auxiliary Liberty Unit
289 was organized in 1946 with thirty charter
members, namely: Mamie Hirtzel, Mamie Rosine,
Maurine Kull, Goldie Nippe, Ethel Harmon, Virginia
Griffith, Marjorie Green, Audrey Falk, Anna Wirth,
Lillian Wittenberg, Cora Ostermeier, Lizzie Giertz,
Mable Schmitt, Pauline Tate, Aurora Kull, Pat Kull,
Opal Keller, Frieda Daniels, Noberta Renshaw,
Louise Kircher, Mabel Weber, Marjorie Tate, Ruth
Meeker, Cora Von Behren, Lena Wilson, Fay Eileen
Storm, Rose Storm, Helen York, Myrtle Ulmer, and
Vera Ulmer. First president was Lena Wilson.
The American Legion Auxiliary was formed
to aid the American Legion in their program of
peacetime service to America. There are twenty-
three different programs the Auxiliary takes part in.
Of special interest is the rehabilitation, at Danville,
of the disabled veteran, and Illinois Soldiers' and
Sailors' Children's Home at Normal, which pro
vides for the welfare of children who have no
homes. The unit yearly sends a high school girl to
Girls' State, sponsors poppy sales, donates to a
foreign country, conducts the Americanism essay
contest, and collects coupons for equipment.
Presently there are forty-six senior members
and twenty junior members. Charter members who
have held continuous membership are: Lena
Wilson, Mabel Schmitt, Cora Ostermeier, Mamie
Rosine, Cora Von Behren, Louise Kircher, Mamie
Hirtzel, Myrtle Ulmer, Mabel Weber, Ruth Meeker,
Noberta Renshaw, and Aurora Kull. Gold Star
mothers are Lena Wilson and Louise Gillins.
Although scouting was introduced to the
United States in 1910, it was another fifty years
before Strasburg had a Boy Scout troop. Church
fathers, who had been opposed to scouting for
religious reasons, approved the organization, and
in 1960, a troop was formed with Ray Price as
Scout Master. Not only was Ray a good and
willing worker with boys, but he was the only man
in town who had been in Boy Scouts (in Shelby-
ville), and the by-laws stated that an ex-Scout must
be Scout Master. American Legion Post 289 spon-
sored the organization. Later the same year three
Cub Scout Dens were formed with Earl Renshaw as
Cub Master. Den Mothers were Elaine Merriman,
Noberta Renshaw, and Kathleen Thomas; Norma
Rose Crutcher was assistant. Later Paul Thomas,
Linel Thomas, Derry York and Delbert Stremming
were Scout Masters. In addition to the traditional
Scout activities, these local boys learned to swim,
build houses for vanishing bluebirds, take field
trips, and help in various community activities.
Gradually the members of these original dens
and packs outgrew the organization and passed the
age of seventeen, so the project was temporarily
In 1972 Cub Scout Pack 142 was reorganized
with thirty boys joining from Strasburg, Stewardson
and Mode. Adult leaders were: Joyce Bowers,
Evelyn Augenstein, Marjorie Fluga, Ada Foreman,
Lynda Mason, Shirley Stremming, Joan Gallagher,
and Dave Durbin. This group of boys was just as
active as the first. They have marched in the
Memorial Day parade, attended Akela Days at
Camp Robert Faries in Decatur, and enjoyed the
Ice Capades at Champaign.
Presently there are ten boys in the Cub Scouts.
Weekly meetings are held on Thursdays after school.
Pack meetings are held monthly at the Community
Building. Adult leaders now are Evelyn Augenstein,
Janet DePriest, and Dave Durbin.
Citizens in Strasburg, realizing the need for a
city fire department, organized the Strasburg Volun-
teer Fire Department in August, 1912. The first
members were: Dr. F. W. Risser, J. E. Weber, A. C.
Duling, Chester Marsh, J. C. Klump, Louis Weber.
Wm. Wilson, Henry Faster Jr., C. C. Beck, and Wm.
W. Engel. Martin Hamm was first fire chief, and,
H. M. York served as assistant. This group donned
fireman hats and long black slicker raincoats when
called to duty. Between fires, pumping out wells
and cleaning tiles was a regular activity.
The bucket brigade, formed in 1895, was soon
made obsolete by the hand pump, which was
operated by four men like a railroad handcar. This
was usually pulled to fires by hand in town, but it
could be hooked to a team or an auto. Later a
pump with a gasoline motor was' used. This again
was generally transported by the men. At this
time, the department also owned a ladder wagon
and a two wheeled hose cart.
Fires were fought with the hand pump until
1923 when a Model T 1923 Ford truck equipped
with a three cylinder piston pump was purchased
In 1953 the present International truck with
modern pumper and 850 gallon water capacity was
bought. At the same time a drive was organized
to include the farmers in the fire protection area.
This met with good response. Farmers may be-
come members for a fee of twenty-five dollars per
set of buildings and ten cents per acre of ground.
$100.00 is charged for a fire call, and is usually
taken care of by the insurance company, if insured.
A Ford truck equipped with a 1,000 gallon
water tank and pumper was purchased in 1966 to
fight field and grass fires.
The present fire department is a member of
the Old National Trail Firefighters Assn. and con-
sists of twenty-five members. Officers are: Robert
Falk, Fire chief; Donald Webner, assistant chief;
Elmer Staehli, president; Gene Stremming, vice
president; Floyd Weber, secretary; Guy Juhnke,
treasurer. Two secretaries have served the organi-
zation: Henry Faster Jr. 1912-1944, and Floyd
Weber 1945 - .
The fire house was built in 1914. The original
fire bell is still in the building. The electric fire
siren on a forty-five foot tower was installed in
To report a fire now, the phone number
4-3121 is dialed, and this rings the fire phones in
fifteen homes in Strasburg and the volunteer
1923 Ford fire truck.
Water was never too plentiful in the Strasburg
area, and residents had to rely on a supply from
shallow wells and cisterns on their own property.
Even in the early days it was not uncommon for
these wells to go dry during the summer months.
When homes became modernized, more water than
ever was needed, and many house-holders made a
regular practice of buying water and having it
hauled in to their wells. Especially during the
extremely dry years of 1954-55, the water shortage
became more acute, and efforts were made to
secure a water system to serve the community.
The first step was to find a suitable source of
supply that would be adequate and meet certain
standards of quality. For more than twenty years,
test wells were dug at various promising locations,
but none could produce the amount needed.
Finally four and one half miles southeast of town,
a test revealed water enough to warrant digging a
The next step was financing the project.
Application had been made to the Farmer's Home
Administration for a forty-year loan of $220,000
and was accepted provided the town could guarantee
175 users. The town officials worked hard at this,
and got 201 subscribers who signed up for a mini-
mum monthly payment of five dollars for 2000
gallons of water. Work started in September, 1965.
The engineers were Marbry & Johnson of Robinson,
Illinois, and the installing contractor was Henry
Holkenbrink of Effingham. Elaborate dedication
ceremonies took place on Friday, February 18,
1966, and the water was turned on the next day.
The Village officials at this time were: Harrison
Ulmer, Pres.; Paul Juhnke, Clarence Buesking,
W. O. Keller, Elmer Staehli, Wm. R. Engel, and
Floyd Weber. Trustees: Don Keller, Clerk.
Donald Webner was the former village mayor
during the time when much of the preliminary
work and planning were being done.
The system has a 50,000 gallon tank on an
elevated tower located in the northwest part of
town, on land donated to the village for that
purpose by the Walters sisters. The plant itself is
located south-east of town on a tract leased from
Irvin Figgins. The plant consists of a 65 foot well,
pumps, and a purifying system. These are enclosed
in a concrete block structure. The whole operatkm
is radio controlled to maintain the required pressure
at all times.
A chlorinator has been used since the begin-
ning to provide chloride treatment of the water,
and flouridation was installed in May, 1968, to
comply with state regulations. This increased the
cost to users to a $5.50 monthly minimum charge.
Water samples are taken monthly and mailed to the
state for testing to insure the purity of the water.
There are at present 205 metered customers
using an average of 35,000 gallons daily. Area
farmers also benefit by being able to obtain water
from the Water Salesman located in town at the
firehouse, where water can be obtained day or
night the year round from a metered dispenser. An
average of 40,000 gallons of water is bought and
taken out by individuals each month.
Floyd E. Weber has been superintendent and
operator of the plant, and also serves as treasurer.
Velma C. Weber serves as bookkeeper.
The water system also serves some homes
located along or near the main line and provides
water at St. Paul's Church and School and Unit 5A.
Thirty-one fire hydrants provide ample protection
from fires, whereas the fire truck formerly had to
rely on water from the town wells, which some-
times proved inadequate. A new laundromat and
car wash have been erected, and builders of new
homes no longer have to meet the expense of
digging a well of their own before starting to build.
The water system has brought many benefits to the
town and community.
Dale York, proprietor of York's Cafe, states
that his brick building was built before 1900 by
Martin Hamm, for use as a clothing store. Elmer
York, Dale's father, and Bill Telgman hauled more
than 100,000 bricks from Stewardson for the
Van Rheeden sold clothes here later, and in
1914 Elmer York bought the building. Here he
managed a clothing store until about 1935. These
businesses were all in the upstairs with the base-
ment being used mainly for storage until 1930
when Elmer York started a restaurant below the
store. He operated both businesses for awhile.
The basement was used from 1920 to 1926
by Dale's brother Gay, who sold auto parts, tires,
and batteries there. They pumped gas, and even
Dale helped, although he was so young he used
both hands to crank the gas pump.
In 1930 Elmer York built the "Green Lan-
tern" onto the building's east side. Pop, sandwiches,
ice cream, and candy were sold here during the
summers by Aurora and Redith, daughters of
Elmer. Dale removed this in 1946 because the
structure made the cafe entrance confusing to the
Dale recalls working at this location, first
part-time for his father, and then full time begin-
ning in 1937. In 1941 Dale opened York's Cafe.
Feeling that a small town in itself would not
attract customers, he made excellent food the
Photo by: Ernie Newberry, Jr.
speciality of the house. The kitchen addition was
constructed in 1946, and Dale now has five people
working there on weekends and another five
employed out front. During the week, fewer
employees are needed.
Strasburg and York's are synonymous to
people for miles around. Fanciers of fine foods
have flocked to Dale York's for years.
In 1893, John N. Poe built the livery barn in
downtown Strasburg. The building is mortise and
tenon, and fastened with wooden pegs. This busi-
ness changed hands many times. Louie Buesking
ran the livery barn, as did George Gill. Owners
include Bill Bauer, Pete Buesking, and Shorty
The auto forced the close of this business
This building remained empty for several
years, used only for machinery storage. In 1935,
G. B. Ulmer purchased the barn, and in 1947 the
building was remodeled, and Wm. Juhnke with his
sons, Paul and Guy, began the feed business here.
Wm. V. Juhnke returned in 1967. Serving the area
farmers, Paul and Guy Juhnke grind and mix feeds,
handle bag and bulk feeds, and sell livestock supplies
Since the restaurant in town has closed,
Juhnke's have a coffee pot in their office, and
many now enjoy a cup of coffee and the day's
news at Juhnke's.
Theo. Alwardt farms two miles south and
one mile east of Strasburg. In 1970 he became the
Shell Oil Company truck salesman in our area. Now
he represents the Sunoco Oil Company. Even
though the Alwardts plan to move to Stewardson
soon, Theo, will continue to serve our community.
The Standard Oil Company is represented in
Strasburg by C. E. Buesking.
In 1920 a bulk plant was built in town and
Howard Price was the first agent. In 1923 M. G.
Ulmer took over full distribution for Standard
Oil, and he operated the business until 1950.
When Martin Ulmer returned, Clarence Buesking
continued the service.
A 250 gallon delivery truck was used in 1920;
through the years business has increased so that at
the present, a 1500 gallon truck is used.
Strasburg is one of the best agricultural com-
munities in the country, and the Standard Oil
business is ever-growing here. C. E. Buesking
currently serves an area of 200 square miles.
Derry York, owner of York Bin Company
began his business in 1965 at the southwest edge of
Strasburg. He started by selling Superior Grain
Bins and various types of grain handling equipment.
In two years be won the company award for sales,
excellent service and installation.
In 1967 Derry changed to Butler Bins. Each
year Derry's company has grown in size. Presently
there are three warehouses and three offices, with
additional employees and staff required each year.
Derry represents the central zone dealers at
Butler Company meetings, and he serves on the
twelve man Butler Agri-Council.
Derry's farm and York Bin Company were
annexed into the Strasburg city limits in 1973.
Since 1947 Lawrence D. Biehler has owned
and operated the Biehler Hatchery Company which
dates back to 1911.
John Biehler, Lawrence's father, came to
Strasburg around 1908. He lived in the Northeast
part of town and here he had a few setting hens.
Although he and Louie Figge owned a harness shop
downtown for awhile, John Biehler soon got into
the hatchery business.
At the present location, the first structures
to be erected were the two white frame buildings.
In 1936 the brick building was constructed, and
this houses the office and incubator room. The
feed building to the front was added in 1947.
Lawrence's wife Gail handles the office work
at the hatchery. Since 1954 Dwight Lading has
been employed as Biehler's right hand man.
In 1961 a poultry farm was purchased. Larry
Black has lived on the farm since 1966. Here one
day old chicks grow to twenty week pullets that
sell as layers to other growers. Biehlers presently
have five other poultry farms under contract.
The early business was largely to local farmers
who nearly all raised poultry. In later years as
eggs and broiler production specialized, the egg pro-
duction was expanded. Now nearly all egg pro-
duction is on a contract basis with the producer,
pullet supplier, and feed supplier sharing income
Glen Brandt and his son Frank hauled milk
and ice cream for twenty-one years for Litchfield
In 1964 Glen Brandt began dealing in grain.
When he retired in 1970, Frank Brandt took over.
Brandt's elevator is located two miles south of
Strasburg. Grain is bought from local farmers and
it is trucked to St. Louis, Wayne City, Decatur, or
Besides dealing in grain and engaging in farm-
ing, the Brandt family now raise and show
John Wittenberg and his wife Edith operate
the Wittenberg Grain Company north of Strasburg.
John recalls that the business was started in
1945 when he purchased a used John Deere corn
sheller. He shelled corn for neighboring farmers
and trucked it to St. Louis. Bagged fertilizer was
hauled back to the area. For twenty-five years, the
Wittenberg's were thus engaged.
When bulk fertilizer became popular, John
decided to drop the fertilizer part of the business
and specialize only in grain handling. The new
elevator was built on the farm in 1961. Witten-
berg's is now the largest grain disposing company in
central Illinois, buying from local farmers and
hauling to market. Four truck drivers are employ-
Main Street-Strasburg 1973.
Gail Biehler, Lawrence Biehler, and Dwight
Lading at Biehler's Hatchery.
Pictured in a Youngscraft workshop are left
to right: Dale and Emily Young, Dee Pieper,
Jim Elam, Paul Juhnke, Larry Giertz; seated:
Roger Schokley, Ronald Apke, and Ronald
Strasburg State Bank employees: Roy Rincker,
Linda Cress, Evelyn Augenstein, and Nita
Kull Brothers, left to right: Loretta Kull
Carl Kull, Grace Kull, and Merl Kull.
Earl Renshaw and Larry Renshaw are shown
in Renshaw's Superway.
Guy Juhnke and Paul Juhnke at the feed mill.
1 f Rfi
Dale York's Cafe.
(continued from page 69)
ed, and John and Edith handle the office and
John's son, John Jr., is in charge of the farm-
ing, but he also drives a truck and helps at the
elevator when needed.
John Wittenberg has nothing but praise for
the people in this area saying, "This community,
in my estimation, cannot be beat."
In 1921 G. B. Ulmer started hatching chicks
with a few small incubators. Soon he expanded
and erected a building by his parents' home north
of where W. R. Grace Company is now located.
Several thousand chicks were hatched here weekly,
and all were sent by parcel post to a wholesaler in
Ulmer's Hatchery was consumed by fire in
1925. All was lost - office equipment, records,
and supplies, as well as 40,000 eggs that were in the
process of incubation.
The business began again in a vacant building,
formerly a blacksmith shop, at the east end of
Commercial Street. In the fall, "Dub" purchased
his present location and the hatchery was built
here, now being operated by "Dub" and his wife,
the former Alice Kull.
By this time nearly all the chicks were sold
locally. A brooding capacity of several thousand
A hobby of the Ulmer's had grown since
1950, and all enjoy their little roadside zoo of
peafowl, pheasants, quail, geese, and "Mr. Hootie".
Ulmer's Hatchery has been operating under
the same owners, longer than any other business
now in Strasburg. For fifty-two years, "Dub"
Ulmer has been in the hatchery business.
Dale Young, owner of Youngscraft Cabinets,
began his business when he was eighteen years old.
In the Abe Young building on the east end of
Commercial Street, Dale made cabinets, repaired
furniture, and did upholstering.
Dale's wife, the former Emily Mulvaney, has
helped in the business since 1950. Dale served in
the Korean War, and when he returned, he con-
tinued with cabinet making. In 1955 he was
operating three workshops in town - in the Abe
Young building, the Bill Hamm building, and in the
former Green Garage. Seven or eight cabinet-
makers were employed by this time.
Dale expanded and incorporated, but diffi-
culties with faulty glue contributed to his com-
pany's bankruptcy in 1960. In just a short while,
customers were again asking for cabinets crafted
by Dale, and he resumed business.
In 1965, one of the town's worst fires destroy-
ed Dale's main manufacturing plant. Dale pur-
chased the former Weber store building, and this
workshop remains the hub of Youngscraft Cabinets.
Dale recalls the first kitchen layout he designed
It was done for Martin Kull, and is still in the home
now owned by Pete Buesking.
Formica was used exclusively by Youngscraft
Cabinets beginning in 1963. Dale pioneered Formi-
ca. The first Formica cabinets in St. Louis were
put in by Dale twenty-two years ago. Youngscraft
Cabinets, distinctive in design, are used in fine
homes and businesses throughout Illinois. The
John Hancock Building in Chicago and the Kran-
nert Art Center at the U. of I. are just two of the
buildings which contain Youngscraft Cabinets.
Designing and building kitchens, vanities, office
furniture, and store fixtures is Dale's speciality.
Dale's business is ever-changing and expand-
ing. He has recently ventured into a new line of
manufacturing a patented vending machine for 8
track stereo tapes. Dale is president of the Sanibel
Manufacturing Company, which will produce this
vending machine for world-wide distribution.
The Bill Hamm building at the east end of
Commercial Street mentioned by Dale Young and
owned now by Dale was built by Harmon Dannen-
berg in 1907 for a restaurant. He married John
Ebmeier's sister and he remained here in business
until 1912 or 1913. James Wiandt's Jewelry Shop
was in the east part of the building at one time.
Charlie Miller had a saloon there, also. C. C.
Beck's Grocery Store operated in this building for
years until 1931. Other groceries there include
Gaylord Ulmer's and Ray Price and Walter Kull's.
The building was owned for years by Martin Hamm,
later by Lauren Hamm. W. O. Keller purchased the
building from the Hamm estate, and Dale Young
acquired the structure from him.
Beauty shops in the Strasburg area are: The
Beauty Box, formerly Max Weber's Insurance office,
located in Strasburg's Commercial Street and oper-
ated by Joann Neimerg; Clara's Beauty Shop
operated by Clara Durbin in her home since 1969;
and York's Beauty Salon, operated now by Debbie
Thoele, in the Derry York residence.
Jerry Kessler purchased the John Radloff
home on Route 32 in Strasburg. Here he opened
Jerry's Barber Shop in 1971. Jerry is busy shaping
hair, giving haircuts and shampoos.
Roger Rentfro bought Ivan Keller's building
just east of Renshaw's, and began a Recreation
Center in Strasburg in 1973. The center is open
in the evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays.
People of all ages may enjoy playing pool, ping-
pong, or other games here, and snacks are available.
Roger also has established a television and
stereo repair shop in the rear of the building.
This building was built by J. J. Kull for a
saloon. Others, including a Buell and Son, operated
this saloon later. O. O. Kull remembers working in
Chris Kircher's hardware and implement store
here from 1925 until 1928. The equity moved into
this structure then, and Orval managed this busi-
ness, which he then bought in 1932. Orval pur-
chased the building from the Kull estate. He
operated the O. 0. Kull Grocery there until 1955
when Ivan Keller purchased the establishment and
opened Keller's Grocery.
Nippe's Garage, located in the west part of
Kull Brother's Hardware Building, is operated by
Charles Nippe. He has done general repairs there
since 1964 when the business was purchased from
Vern Oliver was the first mechanic at this
location. When 0. A. Green had the garage. Shorty
Lading handled the repair jobs. In 1940, Emil
Ulmer and Curtis Ostermeier took over the shop.
Harrison Ulmer also worked as mechanic with his
father here for several years.
Falk's Repair Shop is owned by Robert Falk.
Bob Specializes in farm machinery repair work.
Farmers around Strasburg are fortunate to have an
expert mechanic in town. He began his business in
1959, purchasing his shop at the east of Commer-
cial Street from Wm. W. Engel and Sons.
Bob worked for Wm. W. Engel and Sons, John
Deere Dealer, as a mechanic beginning in 1946,
until Engel's went out of business in 1959.
The back room on his shop was built for an
ice house where ice cut from local ponds was
stored in sawdust for use during the next summer.
At one time the front of the shop was used as a
chicken dressing plant. Bob relates a tale told by
Art Unruh. Art said that there are three bottles of
home brew on the bottom of a well under the
floor. The bottles were tied on a string and were
lowered into the well to cool them. The string
Gene Kull began selling fertilizers and
chemicals in Strasburg in 1966. Grace Greentown
is located on the G. B. Ulmer property two blocks
south of the ball park.
Gene supplies area farmers and is especially
busy during farming season. Gene employs Charles
Culver, and in rushed times, his father Rufus Kull
Don Keller of Strasburg began in November,
1952, as Insurance Agent for Country Companies.
Don works out of the office in the Farm Bureau
Building in Shelbyville. He also has an office in his
home in the west part of town.
Don sells all types of insurance, including
life, casuality, fire and marine insurance, and
handles an investment plan.
Kull Brothers' Hardware Store is owned by
Merle and Carl Kull. They began their business in
The store building on Route 32, was originally
built by George E. Kull and "Sep" Swigart for
automobile sales and service. Green's Dodge-Ply-
mouth Garage was later in this building.
Carl Kull served in World War II. He and
Merle purchased the building, and when Carl
returned from service, they went to Danville to
buy hardware supplies to stock the store.
Electricity came into the Strasburg area in
1941-42, but the war halted this work until 1946.
When Kull Brothers began their business, they did
lots of REA wiring in the community. The first
appliance line they handled was Frigidaire. As
homes were wired, waiting lists formed for refriger-
ators and other appliances.
At first Kulls also sold gasoline and oil and
had a grease rack in the rear of the store. They
were dealers for Kaiser-Frazer autos. After the auto
agency was dropped, the brothers expanded their
wiring and plumbing work, and stocked more hard-
ware and different lines of home appliances.
This is a family store, with Carl taking charge
of selling, Merle repairing and installing, and their
wives, Loretta and Grace, minding the store. Other
family members help as needed.
For several years, Kull Brothers has been the
only home and appliance store in Strasburg.
Burgess Studios, owned by Carroll Burgess of
Strasburg, was begun in March, 1973, in his home.
The building on Commercial Street owned by
W. 0. Keller since 1951 was purchased, remodeled,
and serves as office for the Burgess photography
business. Studio portraits are taken here.
Carroll Burgess spends most of his time on the
road photographing in stores throughout Illinois
and into Missouri and Indiana.
The building Carroll Burgess purchased was
built in 1900 by Mary and Mattie Richards for a
hat shop. Mary had the hat shop in the front, and
Mattie did sewing in two rooms to the rear. A
living room and two small bedrooms above the
shop were where the Richards sisters lived. Later
Myrtle Beck had a hat shop here.
Owners listed on the abstract include Wm.
Engel in 1910, Martin Hamm, H. H. Buesking,
Ben Kull, John Anderson and George Lloyd in
1946, Martin Kull, and W. 0. Keller.
This building has been a butcher shop at one
time; Dean and Ida Kearney ran a grocery store
here once; and once it was a pool hall.
Many have lived in the upstairs apartment of
Ralph Crutcher owns Crutcher Sales and
Service, handling lawn and garden power equip-
Ralph began in 1954 in the D-X Service
Station at Route 32 and Commercial Street. In
1961, he purchased the former 0. A. Green Garage
north on Route 32, for a Shell Service Station. In
1962, Ralph began handling lawn mowers and be-
came a Simplicity dealer in 1966.
Although he discontinued his auto service and
sold his business property in 1973, Ralph remains
in the lawn and garden equipment business at his
In 1966 a lot on Commercial Street was pur-
chased from the Engel Estate by Nathan Wascher,
Dr. Peter Kollinger, Richard Mietzner, and Ralph
Mietzner, and the building for the K.W.I.K. Wash
Laundry was erected. This coin operated laundry
and car wash has been owned by Mr. and Mrs.
Ralph Mietzner since 1969.
Burl Hobson opened Hobson Garage at the
east end of Commercial Street in 1946. He began
blacksmithing, welding, and repairing here. In
1963 a vehicle testing machine was installed. Farm
and business trucks are tested here.
Hobson Garage was built by John Ebmeier
and it was used first as a planing mill. In the
middle 1920's, Bartlett's bought milk and made
butter here. Later Paul Rincker used the building
for a cream station and a poultry house.
The mill building still stands in Strasburg, and
is now not a business as such, but is used only for
grain storage by Bill Yakey of Stewardson. It is
reported to be the oldest structure in Strasburg.
It must have been erected in 1883.
Henry Bernhard's milling business in Shumway
burned, and local citizens here, realizing the need
for a mill, paid five thousand dollars and erected
the Strasburg building. Bernhard established his
business here. His son-in-law, August Metzler, later
took charge. For a time people from all over the
country came to Strasburg to get their grain ground
into flour and meal. The business was lost before
the depression, and the property sold at a bank-
ruptcy sale in 1930. Floyd Yakey of Stewardson
acquired the property, and August Kull managed
the elevator until he retired in the 1950's. Donald
Webner later leased the elevator.
Schlechte Lumber Company, located in the
south part of Strasburg, was established in 1958 on
property purchased from Rosetta Fling.
The company has increased in size from the
original 60 x 100 foot of buildings to its present
size of 150 x 300 foot of buildings. Due to ever
increasing demands, these buildings have been
expanded five different times. A complete line of
building materials, hardware, DuPont paint, and
plumbing supplies is currently carried.
For several years, Lloyd Schlechte and his
sons, Warren and George, built homes and did
carpentering. Now George has taken over this
work, while his father handles the lumber yard
business with the help of two employees, Bryan
Renshaw and Roscoe Hash. Warren is now a con-
tractor working in the Effingham area.
Many homes and other buildings have been
constructed throughout the Strasburg area by the
Schlechte Lumber Company continues to pro-
vide the Strasburg community with the best
materials and considerate service. Lloyd Schlechte
welcomes all customers, saying^ "We are here to
serve you and our community."
Donald Webner of Webner's Truck Service
and Webner's Elevator remembers trucking first in
1927. His first truck was a '28 Chevrolet. He
hauled livestock from the Strasburg community to
East St. Louis and brought back feed, fertilizer,
and roofing. This trip to the stockyards took nine
hours and twenty minutes in those days. Now it's
a two hour trip to truck to East St. Louis.
Webner's presently have three semi-trucks, a straight
truck, a lime truck, and nine trailers.
In 1951 Donald leased Yakey's Elevator. He re-
calls that during the 1960 wheat harvest, the entire
east side went out of the building. No one was
injured. People came to help from all over with
scoop shovels, augers, and trucks, and in no time
the disaster was cleaned up.
Webner's present business site was developed
in 1967 after land was purchased from Martin and
The Pfeiffer Lumber Company is north of
Commercial Street in Strasburg. The lots the
lumber yard are on are part of the original town
laid out in 1874.
It is said that a Renner was one of the first in
this lumber yard, followed by a G. W. Logan.
Records show that in 1903, J. C. Pfeiffer purchased
the business from Wm. W. Engel. Martin Pfeiffer
later bought his father out and he remained in the
lumber yard until his death. His son, John C.
Pfeiffer, Jr., cares for the lumber yard now and
handles lumber and building supplies, paints, and
Gerald Sporleder purchased the service station
building on the corner of the main street in Stras-
burg from Mrs. Herman Noffke. In 1972 he
opened up the service station here which is now
Herman Noffke built the service station in
1953, where Dr. Schroeder's office had once been.
Vincent Noffke, Ralph Crutcher,the Nippe Brothers,
Lloyd and Fred Durbin, and Kenneth Noffke all
have been in business here.
The East Tavern on Commercial Street stands
empty at the present. In 1947 the frame tavern
building at that location burned, but was soon
rebuilt by John Anderson and George Lloyd.
Owners since the block building was erected have
been: Anderson and Alanbaugh, Martin Kull, Dell
Martin, Bob Merriman, Harold Nippe, and Art
Nippe. The property remains a part of the Goldie
The garage building south of Dale York's Cafe
stands empty now. This structure was built in 1926
by Gay York just before the slab construction was
begun. This was the Ford Garage in Strasburg for
years. Gay remained in business here until his
death in 1960. For twenty-three years Emil Ulmer
was mechanic for Yorks. The building remains
under the York family ownership.
Renshaw's Superway is located in the brick
building at the west end of Commercial Street.
The Big Four-J. C. Pfeiffer, Bert Harves, John
Bauer, and J. J. Kull-erected this building to
handle general merchandise. Everything from
machinery to groceries, from fabrics to hardware,
was sold here.
Earl Renshaw began his business in Strasburg
in December, 1946, when he returned from serving
in World War II. He purchased Art Culver's store,
which was located where the Community Building
is now. Earl recalls that at this time Strasburg had
a thriving business district with three car agencies,
four taverns, two hardware stores, a doctor, a
nursing home, two restaurants, and five groceries.
The following July Weber Brothers wanted to
sell their business, and Earl formed a partnership
with Henry Myers to purchase the store. Renshaw
and Myers were in business until Henry Myer sold
out to Earl and returned to college. In 1957,
Martin Weber's store and building was purchased
by Earl, and Renshaw's moved into the present
Earl remembers that years ago the store was
open on Saturday night. Sometimes as many as
nine hundred dozen eggs would be bought from
local farmers on a Saturday night. Cream was also
purchased and tested in the back room.
Free movies brought crowds to town, and
often during intermission, a hundred ice cream
cones were dipped up.
Renshaw's operated branch stores in both
Stewardson and Windsor at one time.
The present-day store is a modern air-condi-
tioned building, specializing in groceries and meat.
A wide range of ready to wear basics and sewing
needs are carried. Sundries, baby clothing, shoes,
and gifts are also sold.
The north end garage building was erected in
1947 by 0. A. Green and his son, Lowell. Boone
Martin laid the brick with help from Ott Nippe,
Joe Rawlings, and Martin Mueller. After World
War II until 1950, the Green's sold Kaiser-Frazer
autos here. Then they had the Dodge-Plymouth
agency. Lowell was with his father in business
until 1957, when he became postmaster.
Bitzer-Taggart of Shelbyville was in business
in this garage, and later Dale Young used it for a
In 1961, Ralph Crutcher purchased the gar-
age for a Shell Service Station.
Jim Wittenberg owns the building now, and
this is his truck service station. Jim hauls grain
locally, and trucks produce over a twenty state
area. He has three tractors and five trailers. Two
others help him drive.
Leverett Buesking trucked for Joe Young and
Orty Webner previous to 1939, when he went into
business for himself. Farmers would contact him,
and he would haul livestock to packing plants.
Leverett trucks now throughout the middle west,
hauling livestock and feed. He owns two power
units and four trailers.
Both Darrell Cress and Bill Walker own their
own tractors, and they lease to CBW Transport
Service of South Roxana, Illinois.
Ronald Newcomb owns three tractors and
leases to John David Trucking Company of Effing-
Tobe Kircher, north of Strasburg, does general
hauling with his four semi-trucks.
The G. and J. Construction Company of Stras-
burg is owned by George Schlechte and Jim Bales.
George Schlechte has done carpentering since
he graduated from high school in 1951. In 1969
he and Jim formed a partnership and they expand-
ed the business. Five other craftsmen, beside the
owners, are on the G. and J. payroll presently.
The company specializes in construction of homes
and in remodeling.
Construction is done by the G. and J. Con-
struction Company throughout the area, from
Sullivan to Effingham.
Rudolph Kull of Strasburg is the insurance
agent for Pana-Hillsboro Company in the com-
munity. This business has been handled by the
same family for over forty years.
The One Day Coal Mine
Bert Wiandt related the story of the short-
lived coal mining industry in Strasburg. The town
tested for coal and water when Bert was a small
boy during the 1880's. An Artesian well was dug
near where the fire house is presently located.
Drilling there revealed the presence of coal— in
fact, a vein estimated to be five feet thick.
In 1888 local men drilled in different sites
around the village, and a mine was dug east of the
former Strasburg High School, on ground known
for years as the Engel ground, now owned by
George Schlechte. When the coal was reached, it
was only six inches thick on one side and seven-
teen inches thick on the other. Bert called the
Strasburg vein a "horseback"-thick only in one
place and otherwise too thin to be profitable. Salt
water filled the mine shaft within twenty-four
hours, floating tools to the top, and the dis-
couraged drill crew quit. The mine shaft walls were
boarded up with bridge timber and about 1928,
Gay York, local Ford dealer, dumped old cars in it.
As it grew over, the abandoned mine shaft looked
safe, but it remained a dangerous attraction to area
children until 1970 when the shaft was filled.
Can We Forget?
Saturday night free movies?
The church bell tolling a death announcement?
Ida Ruwe's "BURG" at Central Office?
The Memorial Board of service men?
"Pressing the bricks" on Thursday band concert
Class plays held above local businesses?
St. Paul's German picnics?
The brick sidewalks?
The noon whistle?
Bill Wilson punching the clock on his beat?
Light poles in the middle of main street?
The OUTSIDE gym?
Homecoming down main street?
Eavesdropping on party lines?
Rummy marathons in the East Tavern?
The town pumps?
No phone calls after 9 p.m.?
Cutouts on the Model T's?
John Klump lighting the street lamps?
The stores open til midnight on Saturday nights?
Pie and box suppers?
Ice skating on Henne's Pond?
Jacking the car up for the winter?
Making a meal on 10# cheese and 5tf crackers?
Backing up steep hills in the Model T's?
The annual Christmas tree in the center intersection
Many area farms have been in the same family
for over a century. Owners of the following ones
have applied and received emblems presented by
the Charleston Production Credit Association and
the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Eighty acres, two miles south of Strasburg,
belonging to Charles and Mildred Nippe was first
purchased by Henry Figge, Charles' great-grand-
father, who came here from the St. Louis area. The
family farm was then Charlie Figge's; and later Mrs.
Donald and Melba Ruff reside now on the
farm owned originally by John Ruff, Donald's
grandfather. Louis Ruff later lived on the home-
The Brehmer farm south of Strasburg on
Route 32, was first purchased from the Illinois
Central by Carl Brehmer. Wm. J. Brehmer, his
son, later lived on the farm, and now Wm. Brehmer,
his grandson, resides here.
The Russell farm by Lower Ash Church, east
of Strasburg, was first farmed by Hiram Russell,
who came from Indiana. His son, Noah Russell,
later resided here, and then Morris Russell, his
grandson. Feme Russell lived on the homeplace
The Ulmer farm was homesteaded by Andrew
and Sophia Ulmer. The youngest of their sixteen
children, Martin, took over the farm. He is sur-
vived by his wife Mary who still lives on this farm
northeast of Strasburg.
The Wm. Pikesh, Jr. family still farms and
lives on the land once owned by his father, Wm.
Pikesh, his aunt, Anna Pikesh, and his grandfather,
The Duncan farm, three miles north of
Strasburg, was acquired in 1838 and 1843 by
James Duncan. The homeplace was owned later
by Thomas Duncan, then Edward Duncan, and
now Edward's wife, Ethel Duncan. The thirty acre
plot was owned by James A. and Hannah Duncan,
then Edward, and at the present, owners are Ethel
Duncan and George and Gretchen Schumacher,
who is a great grand-daughter of the original owner.
Glen and Fern L. Brandt are owners of three
centennial farms. One is north of St. Paul's
Cemetery, and was owned by the Altags, and later
Minnie and Rudolph Von Behren, grandparents
and parents of Fern. The farm east of Strasburg
was owned by Wm. Von Behren, then his children,
and now Glen and Fern L. Brandt. Frankie Brandt
now lives where Carl J. Juhnke first lived. Later
Minnie Von Behren owned this farm.
The farm north of Strasburg, where Elmer
Richards has lived since 1939, was first purchased
by his great-grandfather, James Duncan in 1838.
Ruth Leathers, a daughter of James, had the
property in 1865, and then it was out of the family
for a brief period. Sam Duncan, Elmer's grand-
father, obtained the land in 1874; then in 1935,
Mary Elizabeth Richards and Ida Compton were
owners. Ida deeded it to M. E. Richards that same
year. In 1950, Simon Richards, Elmer's brother,
was the landowner, and since 1960 it has belonged
Other area farms that have been in the same
family for over a century include that of Garl
Figgins the Martin Vogel Estate, Otto Lading s,
Gene Telgman, Ervin Lenz, Robert Stremmmg, Ed
Lenz, and Oma Foelsing.
Left: Loads of soy beans awaiting their turn to be un-
loaded at the elevator, October 1944.
J. J. Spannagel binding
grain - 1917.
Farm mower pulled by mule
A barn raising. Walls were assembled on the ground and raised into place with long poles.
Old steam engine running a grain separator before combines were in use.
Right: Early pickup baler on Ervin Reel farm
1930. Below: Clyde Reel on one of the first
combines used in the community in 1930.
The home of Lena Weber on the main street
of Strasburg is in the original town plot laid out by
Charles Ostermeier in January, 1874. Mr. Oster-
meier owned the house, and later it sold to C.
Doehring. The property changed hands several
times. According to the abstract, it was once owned
by the Crawfordsville Casket Co. Once the house
was used as a millinery shop by the Beck sisters,
Myrtle and Eff ie. J. E. Weber purchased the house
Many remember the huge maple tree that
stood near this home until the last few years. It
was one of the original row of trees set out in the
early history of Strasburg along the north side of
In March of 1874, Charles Ostermeier built
the home where Ed Ostermeier and his wife now
reside. It has changed titles many times, and in
1958 the Ed Ostermeiers bought it from his
This house originally had four rooms-two
down and two upstairs. When Herman Wangelein
owned it, another room was added and grey
weatherboard siding was put on.
This may be the oldest house in Strasburg.
Paul Boyer's home in the southeast part of
town was in the J. F. Kull Sub-Division. It had
belonged to Henry Faster.
Marie Boyer tells that her parents, the Alf
Dulings, began housekeeping here in 1900. At
that time, the house was very old. The south part
of the home was the original section and consisted
of two rooms, one up and one down, with an out-
side stairway on the north.
In 1913 Dulings moved out of the house for a
time, so that two new rooms and the summer
kitchen could be added to the structure. Jake Kull
was the carpenter.
Paul and Marie Boyer moved in during 1939.
They have remodeled once.
James Bush now owns the Martin Hamm home
reportedly built in 1892. The original house con-
sisted of two rooms up and two down plus a
kitchen and a small room for a hired girl. In 1908, the
hall, stairway, two bedrooms and a parlor were
added by Martin Hamm who owned the home
until Kenneth York purchased the property in
1945. The house now was used for a tavern as well
as a home. Max Prosser bought the property in
1951, and the Bob Pattersons owned it from 1963
The first cement sidewalks in Strasburg are
said to be those in front of this house. It's
reported that George Patterson mixed the cement
by hand, and poured the walks.
A. F. Van Rheeden, one of Strasburgs' first
citizens, had the home just west of York's Cafe
built around 1880. Last owners were Alvin and
Belle Kearney. It is a lovely, spacious house
featuring a curved stair case, and it is surrounded
by lush landscaping. This was the Chris Kircher
home for years until the 1930's, at which time
Alvin Kearney purchased the property.
At the present the house stands empty,
owned by Jim York.
About two miles north of Strasburg on route
32 at the top of the hill is the home of Albert
Doehring. The farm house is on the west side of
route 32, and the farm buildings are on the east
side of the pavement. The house reportedly was
built by L. H. Turner about 1874.
The Herman Doehrings purchased the farm
about 1902 from Tom Lading. After Herman
Doehring passed away, his son Albert remained on
The home has changed little over the years.
At one time it had green window shutters and a
fancy railing above the porch.
The Bill Faster home on route 32 is at the
south edge of Strasburg. The east part of the
house was the original one-room cabin made of
four by four hand hewn logs.
This has been plastered over and added onto.
No doubt this was one of the first homes in
Strasburg, although no records can be located.
In 1876 J. J. Kull owned the house and the forty
acres it was on. He and his bride started house-
keeping here, and the house was old at that time.
Henry Faster lived in the home, and later his
children William, Sophia, and Mary made this their
home. The house was occupied until the 1960's.
John Wittenberg is the present property owner.
One mile south of Strasburg on the Clarksburg
Road live the Albert Muellers. This land was pur-
chased in 1870 and 1871, and Albert's grandparents,
the Frederick Luedkes, built the house on the
property in 1874 or before. Albert lived here as a
boy with his grandfather who remained on the farm
until 1907. His brother William farmed here for a
few years. The property was owned by Albert's
mother. He moved on the farm in 1923, and still
Prairie grass still grows along the ditch, some-
times to a height of eight feet. Albert remembers
that this ground used to be little more than swamp
ground infested with snakes.
One of the older houses in Strasburg now own-
ed by Golda Ritchey is two blocks west of Kull
Brothers. This house has had many owners.
George Young owned it in 1900, and in the 1910's
Henry Kircher made it his home. James Wiandt
and his family occupied the house for several years.
Lizzie Giertz lived here in the 1930's until about
1952. The Drake family bought the property in
1960, and in 1966 Proffits purchased
Ritchey became owner in 1973.
The house that Carroll Burgess now owns is
on lots that were originally part of a tract given by
the United States Government to the state in 1850.
The lots then became the property of the Illinois
Central Railroad in 1852. The first individual own-
ing the property was Colbin Seim. The lots passed
through several hands until A. F. Van Rheeden
acquired them in 1880's. Ada Mae Figgenbaum,
grandmother of Zoe and Woodrow Wilson, be-
came owner in 1889. Bill Wilson lived in this home
for several years. The Wilson family owned the
property until 1963 when Freddie Durbin bought
it. Durbins sold the home to Carroll Burgess in
The brick house in the southwest part of town
known commonly as the Figge House was built by
J. J. Kull in 1896. J. J. Kull lived here until his
death in 1927, and then his widow remained. She
died a few years later, and Pete and Sarah Buesking
(daughter of J. J.) lived in the home until the
middle 1930's. At this time the property was pur-
chased by Louie Figge, local harness maker. This
was the Figge home until 1964. From the Figge
estate, the home sold to Omer Thomas. Richard
Holbrook, next owner, sold to Paul Pieper who
owns the property now.
The Ed and Cora Ostermeier home.
Lena Weber's home.
Albert Mueller residence.
Mr. and Mrs. Fred (Fritzie) Brehmer with their 1917 Chevrolet.
J. E. Weber in touring car.
Florence Spannagel, Fern (Spannagel) Reed, Edward Spannagel and Orville Klump
Max and Floyd Weber prepare to deliver in their 1926 Ford
Seven young ladies take a spin in what is thought to be the
first Strasburg-owned car. Back row: Rosa Ruff, Mary Terry,
Leah Spannagel. Front row: Mary Meyer, Cora Ruff, Mrs.
Latimer (seated in front) with Alma Bauer at the wheel.
Road Oiler improves streets in Strasburg.
"Better Get a Horse"-
Martin Buesking and Martin
Von Behren drive down
Commercial in front of the
James Wiandt saw the village of Strasburg
grow from a handful of stores on the prairie to a
Merchant, jeweler, druggist, and postmaster -
James Wiandt was all of these. Primarily, however,
he was a craftsman who through the years mended
clocks, watches, locks, and hinges, did wagon work,
made keys, Jews' harps, reeds for wind instruments,
fashioned pocket knives, made cowbells, and
Violins made by Wiandt were noted for their
sweet tones. His favorite woods to use were cherry
and maple. His violins usually sold for under
$100.00. When asked how he learned to make
violins, it's said that he replied, "I just took it up."
James Wiandt built the first jail in Strasburg,
put down the first sidewalk, and dug the first city
He came to Strasburg as a boy of sixteen lured
by the good farming ground. Here he lived until
his death in 1939. He is buried in Gaskill Cemetery.
THE WALTER GIRLS
Emma and Lizzie Walters lived in Strasburg for
years, and they supplied the entire community
with fruits, vegetables, milk, butter, eggs, and
chickens. The Walters girls had a large garden and a
truck patch. Hops grew on the garden fence, and
the sisters made yeast, which many people in town
used. From their hotbed by the house, Emma and
Lizzie sold celery plants, tomatoes, peppers and
The seamstress was Emma, who sewed for all
of Strasburg. Customers even traveled from Shelby-
ville to be fitted. Many brides walked down the
church aisle wearing a gown by Emma. There
were no commercial patterns to use, and the Walter
girls were experts at cutting their own. For twenty-
five cents, they would make a pattern for local
seamstresses to use. Lizzie did most of the outside
work, and Emma sewed.
Emma clerked and tested cream for Dick
Storm in his store, and later she worked for Martin
Weber in his business. At one time she helped at
York's Cafe. She served the village as treasurer
from 1945 to 1957.
Lizzie passed away in 1960, and Emma's
wish to die alone at home was fulfilled in 1962
when she was found by neighbors.
Marvin Ulmer recalls from his boyhood days
in town: "A fascinating place on Strasburg's main
street in the early 1900's was the blacksmith shop.
It was presided over by "Binky" Duling. He was
only about 5' 5" tall, but he had the biggest biceps
in town. The big activity here was the shoeing of
hordes, banging the red hot plow shares, and putting
a large rim of steel on the wheels of the box wagons.
It was quite a sight to see "Binky" bounce that big
hammer on a red hot plow share and wonder why
the place didn't catch on fire when the hot sparks
fell on the floor.
Most interesting of all was "Binky" himself.
He drove a 1918 Dort. In fair weather it was open,
and when it rained he put on the side curtains.
This little man with the big muscles liked music
and had played in the Strasburg Band and was on
the school board." (Duling Gym was named for
Alf Duling, who was instrumental in getting the
Marvin ends by writing: "Binky" Duling was
my friend when I was little because he always had
time to talk to me. He answered all questions -
relevant and irrelevant. He was quite a fellow!"
When Bertha Hoese came to Strasburg the
lives of hundreds were destined to be changed. A
tall, lively girl with sparkling brown eyes she
assumed charge of the lower grades in Strasburg
Public School and taught them, not with the rod,
but with love and patience. This was her teaching
credo throughout her long teaching career.
Romance came to Bertha with her introduc-
tion to a young barber, Harry York, and the court-
ship developed into marriage. This was in the days
when the woman's place was in the home, and
Bertha left her beloved schoolroom to become a
wife and mother.
In 1924, however, the clang of the school bell
and the smell of chalk dust could no longer be
resisted and Bertha was back, her kind but firm
personality pervading the lower grades.
Children in Mrs. York's room were taught not
only the fundamental readin', writin' and 'rithmetic,
but were instilled with a philosophy of living to
serve them throughout life. She believed in the
simple things - faith, love, charity, and above all,
the beauty of the things around her. She was once
heard to remark, "I see beauty in all things. Even
the sight of freshly washed clothing flapping in the
breeze is a thing of beauty."
She returned in 1941 after twenty-five years of
teaching in Shelby County.
Have an old shed to move? Need a load of
coal or concrete blocks-sand or rock? Want your
junk hauled away?
Until his untimely death in 1963 at the age of
fifty-three, Willard Richards was always available
for such jobs. He had a wench truck and a truck
for hauling. Anything that had to be hauled he'd
haul. Loving a challenge, if anyone said a job
couldn't be done, Willard would do it.
Born and raised west of Strasburg where Max
Prosser now lives, Willard and his father lived on
that farm all of their lives.
In World War II, Willard served in the Phili-
ppines and New Guinea, and he traveled extensively
whenever he had the opportunity. An independent
thinker, even in the army, Willard refused rank
many times, and was discharged as private first
class. Although he tried to hide his talents, his
superiors eventually discovered that he was an
expert driver, and he drove an army truck and also
an officer's jeep. Willard refused his overseas pay
when discharged, saying that if the government
would leave him alone, he'd leave them alone.
Clamping his cigar stub in his mouth, Willard
dispensed his philosophy along with his hauling. He
never believed in paying income tax. If he was
making too much profit during the year, jobs were
done near the end of the year for little or nothing.
The waste in the army bothered him, and his
goal was to buy an LST transport truck, go back to
the Philippines, and salvage equipment buried and
If you had a clock that didn't run or needed
oiling, a saw that was dull, or a camera that was
giving trouble, you had only to take it to Bill and
tell him all your troubles. In his earlier days he
worked in the bank but later became postmaster.
While at this job, he always delivered the special
delivery letters with all haste. His window was
always open, and he was the friend and confidante
of every high school kid. In spite of the "No
loitering" sign in the lobby, much time was spent
by students in pouring out their woes to Bill, and
he would try his best to come up with a remedy.
After he was out of the post office, he opened
up his Fixit Shop at his home, where people came
from great distances and brought their articles to
be mended. Bill, a bachelor, lived with his two
unmarried sisters in their parental home on the
south edge of Strasburg. This house is one of the
oldest buildings still standing in town, and part is
the original log house. After his sisters died, he
went to live with his nephew Bob in Kansas City,
and took an active interest in the happenings of that
city. When Bob moved to Mattoon, he also made
his home there. But Bill missed being able to walk
up to Main Street and chat with old friends and
cronies. He loved to talk, and could spin yarn upon
yarn about the old town when it was almost new,
and could tell many colorful stories of the people
who are now gone. If Bill were still with us, I'm
sure that this book would be a lot easier to write.
Walt was probably about as well known asany-
one in the Strasburg vicinity, if not by sight, at
least his voice could be recognized. He was the
local telephone operator, taking over that job after
his father died. He was also the repair man and
could be seen almost anywhere fixing a line or pole
that was broken or worn out. He lived with his
mother, but his home was actually in the telephone
office. Since he was on call for emergency tele-
phone service all night, he had his bed close to the
switchboard. In his earlier days he worked at
various jobs, one of them being a helper to Boone
Martin, who did masonry work. Walt loved to tell
about one job where he and Boone were repairing
the plaster in the ceiling of a home. They jokingly
told the lady that the ceiling was guaranteed to stay
up until they got out of the house. Sure enough,
just as they got out of the door, the whole new
plastering came crashing down!
The two sisters, Etta and Rosa, were daughters
of Dr. and Mrs. Risser and were born in the frame
building which served as home and office for the
doctor. As a girl, Etta liked to accompany her
father in his rounds of sick calls, and began to give
what aid she could to the patients. Etta worked as
assistant in the post office and took a great interest
in photography. When their mother died, the two
girls kept house for their father, and the three of
them took their motherless nephew and grandson
into their home.
The sisters were always ready for an outing or
picnic, whether it was in their back yard, in the
nearby woods, or some far-off scenic place. Plan-
ning parties was a great delight to them, and they
entertained a host of friends. At Christmas time,
their house was always the first one decorated, and
it gleamed from top to bottom, adding glamour to
the many holiday festivities for which they were
famous. Both loved to walk, and Etta especially
could easily cover more than a dozen miles at a
After Dr. Risser died, the sisters kept the
household going, and also remodeled the house so
that it could be operated as a convalescent home
and a home for elderly and disabled people. Rosa
did most of the cooking, and Etta was the chief
nurse. They took great pains to keep up the morale
of the patients. One elderly grandmother they
always dolled up with ribbons when she was having
company, and for a helpless man, they saw to it
that the radio was nearby and tuned to his favorite
ball game, Etta would make bets with him on the
outcome of the games, and could read in his eyes
his pleasure or disapproval of the proceedings. The
Risser girls continued in this work until age began
taking its toll. _
In April, 1973, Rosa passed away, and Etta
died only six weeks later.
ELAINE "BOOBY" MERRIMAN
Although she was christened Elaine Ulmer at
birth, within a few days her father Gilbert had
dubbed her with the nickname "Booby" and this
affectionate term stuck throughout her life.
She spent her entire life in Strasburg, except
for a year in California, while her husband was
serving in the Korean War, and her interests en-
compassed the entire community.
If any neighbor was sick, Booby was one of
the first to arrive with a tasty dish. She was a friend
of the elderly and spent many hours in their
company, bringing a ray of sunshine into their
lives. Mother of two sons, she served her time as
Den Mother, and her basement, was a gathering
place for many after-the-game activities for both
the youthful participants and their parents.
When Booby heard that Strasburg was going
to celebrate its hundredth birthday, she plunged
headlong into helping plan the activities. She held
a party to raise funds, and donated all the profits
to the Hundertjahrfest and started a gold embel-
lished tablecloth featuring all the town's businesses.
Her brown eyes sparkled with relish when she
talked about her plans for 1974.
But 1974 was not to be for Booby. In the
spring she underwent surgery and the diagnosis was
cancer. Still she went on planning for the future
which she knew she would not live to enjoy.
Always an active church worker, she set an
example for her fellowmen by maintaining her
fortitude and faith in God. In the late summer
Booby left us, but her spirit lives on.
Elaine (Booby) Merriman
In Webster's dictionary, a secretary is defined
as one employed to handle correspondence and
manage routine and detail work for a superior.
But, Mrs. Lading was much more than this.
Frieda Lading attended Brown's Business Col-
lege in Decatur, and she did some secretarial work
in Michigan. In 1948 she became secretary at the
Strasburg school. She became unit secretary in
1952, and she served in the capacity until her
retirement in 1971.
Efficient and courteous, she became very
knowledgeable about school business and was in-
dispensable around the school office. Faculty and
students alike relied on her. School was her life,
and she gave unselfishly of her time and energy.
As a mother of a grown family— a son and two
daughters-Mrs. Lading anticipated retirement. She
had grandchildren to enjoy, plus her rose bushes and
her flower beds. Retirement was short for her,
however, only a few months of leisure, a trip to
Florida, and Mrs. Lading died unexpectedly after a
Law and Order in Strasburg
Strasburg was a typical pioneer town. To it,
as to every town that was started in those days,
came gamblers and rowdies. Fights and gunplay
were sometimes indulged in, and the village enjoyed
more local color than peace of mind. Law and order
were in the person of a town marshal with a three
foot club. He was often scoffed at, for culprits
when pursued had the disconcerting practice of
running, jumping over the fence (located on the
west side of the route between where Kull Brothers
and York's Cafe now stand) and, safe outside the
city limits and the jurisdiction of its law, expressing
in lurid terms their opinions of it. As the town
grew, this element subsided and finally disappeared.
Marshals and night watchmen of the past
recalled by local citizens include: A. A. (Raspberry)
Beck, Jasper Curry, John Ebmeier who took his
dog along when walking his beat, Jake Martin,
Ben Bingaman, and Louie Knapp. Later "old
John Klump" kept order, then Bill Wilson, A. V.
(Slug) Unruh, and Red Keller. Presently, Donald
Webner is Strasburg's night watchman.
THE 1930 ROBBERY
Five armed gunmen disturbed the peace in
Strasburg in 1930, early one morning. The night
watchman, Bill Wilson, was tied up and taken to the
Orty Webner store which stood where Renshaw's
parking lot now is. One bandit was left to stand
and guard Wilson. The other four, it's reported,
captured the bread truck driver who was delivering
in town. Ralph Terry who drove for Orty Webner
appeared on the scene to get a truck out, and the
robbers promptly tied him up. All three captured
by the gunmen were found about 6:30 a.m.
$75.00 worth of merchandise was taken from
M. R. Storm's store, and the post office was
entered. Several items were also taken from Orty
Webner's Hardware Store.
Later the gunmen were caught in the Decatur
The Barber Shop Mirror
The mirror still in the former barber shop on
Commercial Street was the basis of a feature news-
paper article in March, 1951. At that time, the
mirror reportedly was at least forty years old -
which dates it to the year 1911. Businessmen in
Strasburg around 1911 had ads at the top and
bottom of the mirror. Since this gives a good idea
of Strasburg businesses at that period, we list these
Charles Mueller - dealer in wines, beer
H. J. Rogers - blacksmith and woodwork man
E. M. York - clothing
John Bauer — merchant and autos
Wm. W. Engel - real estate
F. C. Doehring — auctioneer and real estate
J. C. Pfeiffer - building materials and funeral
Buell and Son - dealer in wine, liquor, and cigars
H. H. Buesking - livery, feed, and sale barn
J. E. Weber - general store
Chris Kircher - general merchandise
Wm. E. Swigert —wines, liquors, and cigars
Charles C. Beck - store
Strausburg State Bank
It is said that this mirror was purchased by
the businessmen in town from a traveling salesman
from Salem, Illinois. Henry Faster in the Strasburg
State Bank signed up for the bank ad on the
mirror. When the mirror was delivered, Faster saw
that the name Strasburg was misspelled, and so
that ad has never been paid for.
The historical book committee gratefully acknowledges all the help given by so many in compiling this
booklet. People made long distance phone calls, checked cemeteries for tombstone dates, tore entire pages
out of albums, searched through scrapbooks, and went through abstracts, files and records.
Many contributed articles, notes, and histories. Among them were Nina Widdersheim, Roscoe and
Mildred Hash, Lena Weber, Helen Rincker, Gene and Joyce Kull, Betty Stilabower, Linel and Ruth Thomas,
G B. Ulmer,' Frank Laurent, Marvin Ulmer, Bryan Renshaw, Max Weber, Dwight and Melvma Lading,
Dorothy Pfei'ffer, Curtis and Genevieve Buesking, Wilma Decker, Ed Lenz, Rev. Kammrath, Max Prosser,
Bessie Thomas, and Velma Weber. Local businessmen helped with their histories, and club officers con-
tributed club records.
Personal histories and pictures came from the involved families shown in these photographs. Other
pictures were loaned to us by Leland Buesking, Luella Kull, Ervin Reel, Dale Young, Forest Gene Risser,
Ruth Bushhouse, Dorothy Pfeiffer, Florence Staehli, Martha Bauer, Charles Rosine, G. B. Ulmer, Aurora
Kull, Mildred Hash, Max Weber, Grace Schmitt, Neva Buesking, Lena Weber, Maye Young, Alma Ruff, Nita
Vogel, Bryan Renshaw, Gilbert Stremming, Oma Foelsing, Grace Knop, Emil Ulmer, Florence Spannagel,
Waldo Wiandt, Lorene Baumgarten, and Ed Ostermeier. Roy Spracklen, Carroll Burgess, and Dale Young
took photographs for the book.
We've relied on the memories of many, and we are grateful for all the time people have spent with us.
We're thankful to Nona Belle Keller who checked articles for grammatical errors; and to Annette
Buesking, Joyce Kull, Carolyn Stremming, and Sharon Helton who typed the book copy.
A special thank-you goes to Donna Johnson and her group of ad salesmen for the book. On her
committee were: Paula Kammrath, Kenton Augenstein, Martena Elam, Lynda Mason, Emily Young, Floyd
Storm, and Ronnie Johnson.
The book committee appreciates all those who helped or encouraged in any way throughout the
months of research and writing.
To the best of our ability, the information presented here is as accurate as possible. There may be
discrepancies in some stories because memories are not infallable, and many times written records were not
It's been a joy to work with local citizens in gathering and recording the history of Strasburg.
Sources of Information
1. Combined History of Shelby & Moultrie Counties, Illinois with illustrations. Published by Brink,
McDonough & Co., Phil., Edwardsville, Illinois. 1881.
2. Here and There in Shelby County, collected and edited by Shelby County Historical and
Genealogical Society. 1973.
3. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois & History of Shelby County, Volume II. Bateman & Selby
4. Scrapbooks owned by Lena Weber.
5. "Strasburg Fiddles" by Beulah Gordon.
Table of Contents
Strasburg Is 1
Plat Map 2
How It All Began 3
Silver Threads Among the Gold 5
Town Board History and Records 12
Early Businesses 14
Shindigs and Sociables 21
Medical History 24
Post Office History 26
The Presses Roll 27
Number, Please-The Telephone Story 28
Strasburg Bank History 29
Funeral Customs 30
And Here They Lie - - - 31
The Wabash Railroad 31
The Laying of the "Slab" 34
Strasburg Homecomings 34
With a Song in Their Hearts 39
Faith of our Fathers-The Story of our Churches 43
School Days 48
"For God and Country" 60
Depression Days 62
Clubs of Yesteryear 63
Todays Organizations 64
Fire Department 66
Water Department 67
Strasburg Today 67
The One Day Coal Mine 76
Can We Forget? 77
Centennial Farms 77
Historic Homes 80
Movin' On 82
Law and Order in Strasburg 89
The Barber Shop Mirror 89
Sources of Information 90
Mr. & Mrs. Max F.Weber Dr. W. L. Podesta
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur J. Steidley Dr. H. H. Pettry
Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Shafer Dr. R. H. Larson
Mr. Adolph Rubin Dr. Peter Kollinger
Mr. W.W.Miller A Friend
Other individuals and organizations have contributed toward our centennial book.
We wish to express our sincere thanks!
The Centennial Committee
YORK'S CAFE & TAVERN
John & Margaret Falk
"Headquarters for Jeans and Things '
DR. JOHN R. SEHY
DR. MICHAEL F. SEHY
118 W. Washington Ave., Effingham,
OIL COMPANY, Inc.
^Lell Peholeum Products - l(w(toi|cl files
EFFINGHAM, ILLINOIS 62401
Phone (217) 342 3939
DR. WILLIAM H. STEWART, D.D.S.
301 E. Jefferson
CANDY . TOBACCO AND SUNDRII
HO N HENRIETTA ST.
" EFFINGHAM. ILLINOIS 62401
1006 Maine Telephone 459-2211
WINDSOR, ILLINOIS 61957
Altamont Jewelry & Music
115 W. Washington
Altamont, Illinois 62411
Phone (618) 483-5329
BRUD'S SPORTING GOODS
1018 Maine Windsor. III.
School Sales - Team Sales
Fishing Equipment-Live Bait
Lawrence "Brud" Carter, Owner
FORMAL RENTAL SERVICE
1103 W. Fayette
Ph. 342 3777
Serving the area since 1914.
KASEY INSURANCE AGENCY
LUCY ELLEN DIVISION
F& F LABORATORIES
811 S. Hamilton St.
Ph. 459 2240
BAILEY'S VARIETY STORE
Great Steaks - Delicious Pizza
400 EAST PROGRESS STREET
ARTHUR • ILLINOIS 6I9II
AHEA COOe 217 M3-2I2I
Barker Bros. Implement Co.
R. R. 4
Your Allis Chalmers Dealer
Johnston Super Markets
SALES - SERVICE
New & Used Lawn, Garden, Farm Machinery
Rt. 16 & Hickory St. Shelbyville, Illinois
Dowler Equipment Co.
New Holland - Kewanee
Bush Hog - Harigator - Glen Co.
and other special lines of farming needs.
COAST TO COAST
S. H. Young Construction
KINKADE, SCHILLING & SLOAN
John Deere Sales & Service
Rt. 16 East Ph. 774-2159
SERVICE IS OUR BUSINESS!
Phone (217) 774-3939
SALE EVERY TUESDAY
SHORT FURNITURE CO.
2 Fine Stores to Serve You
Heating & Air Conditioning
S. Vine Shelbyville, 111.
7 OfTrst \\iiov\i ra^k
mug J JQ+ OF SULLIVAN, ILLINOIS
J L We it mm fax people
'The Shoppe of Nationally Advertised Brands'
for Ladies and Juniors
Open Til 9 p.m. Wed Fri & Sat
134 S. Vine St.
Phone 217 543.2181
123 South Vine Street
Arthur, Illinois 61911
Open Til 9p.m. Wed-Fri-Sat
Tine, Nationally Advertised Fashions for Men and Boys'
NEAL-COOPER GRAIN CO.
WINDSOR, ILLINOIS 61957
Phone (217) 459-2143 LIQUID FERTILIZER
Upon your 100 years
of success. We are
proud to be a part of
S& V STONE QUARRY
Producers of Road Rock - Limestone - Chat
STANLEY & VIRGIL WINTER, OWNERS
JERRY'S BARBER SHOP
Tues., Wed., Fri., & Sat. 7:30-5:30
ST. PA UL 'S LADIES AID
Declare His Glory
ST. PAUL'S MEN'S CLUB
100 Years of His Blessing
FALK REPAIR SHOP
Overhaul - Welding
STRASBURG SUNOCO SERVICE
Tuneup— Tires— Batteries
Glen W. Giesler
409 W. Main
For the Past 33 Years.
PFEIFFER LUMBER COMPANY
Fencing, Roofing and
Sandwiches - Cold Drinks
Increased Returns for Fertilizer Dollars Invested By Using
LIQUID PLANT FOOD
John A. Smith David Smith
Stewardson, III. Stewardson, I
Ph. 644-2401 Ph. 644-2401
DAGGETT'S Canvas & Alum. Prod.
Phone 682-3650 No ans. 682-5536
Custom Truck, Boat & Camper
Covers Nylon & Canvas
BRUMMERSTEDT FUNERAL HOME
JOE & DOROTHY LATCH
BOLDT CUSTOM SPRAYING
RAIL STRUCK SALVAGE STORE
LLOYD R. JOHNSON
Bulk Milk Tank Servict
Happy Centennial Days from youi I ord Dealer
Beats Motor Company
Phone 682-3296 Stewardson, lllinoi:
See us for all your automotive needs.
Happy Hundertjahrfest, Strasburg!
See us for all Grain Drying and Construction needs
Irv. Thompson, Enterprises
Areola, Illinois 61910
Stewardson, Illinois 62463
TATE OLIVER SALES
SALES and SERVICE
Phone 682-3838 Stewardsor
"Your full service Oliver Dealer for the past 35 years"
HAPPY D I YS!
Stewardson, III. 62463
Phone 682 3291
G. B. Ulmer
A. L. Ulmer
Founder & Owner
W.R. Grace & Co
Livestock Specialty - Fully Insured
Feed • Fertilizer
Standard Oil Agent
Hotpoint - Amana - Maytag - Whirlpool
Zenith - Motorola - A.O. Smith - Burks - Others
Wiring & Plumbing Supplies
Shop & Swap Where You Get PRICE & SERVICE.
JUHNKE FEED MILL
Complete Feed Services-Seeds
Custom Grinding and Mixing
Strasburg, Illinois 62465
207 N. Morgan
PHONE (217) 774-3979
KENNETH & ORAH
FUNK'S LIMESTONE & FERTILIZER
No Matter What May Be Your Lot In Life, Build Something On It.
CUSTOM APPLICATION OF ALL FERTILIZERS
General Electric Eltrac Tractors & L8wn Equipment
1119 N.Morgan Shelbyville, Illinois 62565
KULL FLORAL CO.
CONNELLY'S BUILDING CENTER
605 NO. CEDAR, SHELBYVILLE, ILL. 62565
Men & Boys Clothing
and Family Shoe Store
141 East Main
106 East Main
Phone (217) 774-4841
ROBERT S. CONNELLY, Owner
I Live to Talk and Talk to Live
DWAINE BAUER, Auctioneer
COMPLETE AUCTION SERVICE
Farm - Livestock - Real Estate
Furniture - Antiques
All Types of Liquidation Sales
Compliments of Clarence Doehring
Congratulations to Strasburg!
PEPSI-COLA DR. PEPPER
JONES TRUCKING SERVICE
Lime - General Trucking
Lumber - Building Material
Tune-up & Engine Overhaul
Rt. 32 & Stewardson Rd.
CONSTRUCTION & SUPPLY
Congratulations on 100 years!
New Homes - Remodeling
Formica Cabinets - Appliances
SCHWAN'S ICE CREAM
Home Delivery Service
Phone 347-7057 or 347-7023
/ K. \
I-70 & Rt. 128 Altamont, III.
Sales and Service
Parts and Accessories
Having been born in Strasburg
WOODROW A. KULL
1704 S. BANKER ST.
EFFINGHAM. ILL. 62401
I Bowl 1
1 Rt. 70-5732 1
1 Effingham, III. 1
1 Sterling Adkins I
Home of the "SCHUETZENFEST"
1 Phone ■
1 342-U45 1
ALTAMONT WHOLESALE CO.
SAMUEL MUSIC COMPANY
ALTAMONT. ILLINOIS 62411
The "New" NEWGENTS
Wrangler Western Boots
Wolverine Work Shoes
Mitchell-Jerdan Funeral Home
Jewelry & Gifts
WALT'S CAMERA SHOP
Flower & Gift Shoppe
Furniture & Carpeting
'Where you have a friend in the furniture business'
Congratulations to the
SALES & SERVICE
>x^T - > Phone 459-2133
" .(/' HS5*r Windsor, III.
Quality Trucks - Jeeps Ariens & Roof Mowers Marathon Tank Wagon Service
Congratulations on your Centennial!
WINDSOR STATE BANK
BENNETT TIRE COMPANY
Phone 459-2115 Windsor, Illinois
Complete Car, Truck & Farm Tire Service
cXovins SFuneral Mome
Phone 459 2254
Wishing the Best to
CUSTOM CARE CLEANERS
Max Hubbartt, Owner
Sales & Service
501 N. 19th St.
and Trust Services
'^z^^^' 3% State, One.
^"^^J^yf--^ '"' Coles County's Largest and Finest Food Market
on Marion Ave. between 15th & 16th
Office Equip. Co.
1 91 2 Western Ave.
MILLER & SON, INC.
213 South 21st Street
Mattoon, Illinois 61938
Telephone (217) 234-6461
''Ttottte o( t&e (fad fyty&
EARL ROSS CLOTHIERS
Mattoon, Illinois 61938
FURNISHINGS & FOOTWARE
SAVINGS <S LOAM ASSOCIATION
CHARLESTON AVE. AT 16TH STREET, MATTOON. ILLINOIS 61938, 217-234-7434
THE FLOWER FARM
CHRIS NICOLAY, PROP.
Western Ave. Rd. Ph. 235-5667
Mattoon, Illinois 61938
If it's electrical - see us!
1205 Lakeland Blvd.
>4 S. 17th St. Mattoon, Illinois
Registered Pharmacist on
duty at all times.
Hello! Best Wishes!
ILLINOIS CONSOLIDATED TELEPHONE COMPANY
117 SOUTH 17TH STREET
CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES ON YOUR
SHELBY ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
Copyright, 1951, National
Rural Electric Cooperative
Best Wishes for Strasburg Centennial
G. W. Prosser and Son
Asphalt & Road Oil Contractors
BUCKSHOT — ROCK CHIPS — PATCH MIX
FURNISHED & SPREAD
PLANT MIXES OF ALL TYPES
213 So. Morgan St. Shelbyville, Illinois
PHONES: Off. 774-5032 — Homes 774-4683 - 2051
G & J CONSTRUCTION
George Schlechte James Bales
Strasburg, III. ,._. . . . . „ Sullivan, III.
Phone: 644-2609 YOU OUght tO See what We Saw Rhone: 728-7971
Webner's Elevator & Trucking
SEED and FERTILIZERS
ANHYDROUS AMMONIA-AG. CHEMICALS
Phones: 644-2214 & 2215 Strasburg, Illinois
Congratulations on Your 100th ANNIVERSARY
The W7tewardson National Bank
STEWARDSON • ILLINOIS 62463
TELEPHONE (217) 682-3236
"100 7<«£w ^«"?
Box 488 . Effingham, llll. 62401
EFFINGHAM, 342-4101 STEWARDSON: 682-3366
Box 237 . Steward son, III. 62463
FEEDS • SEEDS - FARM HARDWARE ■ FERTILIZERS ■ SUPPLIES
WOOLEN & DENTON
TV SALES & SERVICE
ST. SULLIVAN. ILL 6195
DRIVE-INN OPEN 25 HRS.
10 Lanes Billiards
CORLEY INTERNATIONAL, INC.
STATE ROUTES 121 AND 32
SULLIVAN, ILLINOIS 61951
MANUFACTURERS OF OUTDOOR POWER EQUIP.
'Learning More to Serve You Better'
PUMP & WATER
RT. 1 WINDSOR, ILL. 61957
TOM E. DUNN
Congratulations on 100 Years!
Brown Shoe Company
\ ^|/^L A Farm Bureau Service
COUNTRY LIFE • COUNTRY MUTUAL
MID AMERICA FIRE AND MARINE Don Ke ii e r - Agent
INSURANCE COMPANIES Strasburg, Illinois
Association of Concerned
STRASBURG AMERICAN LEGION
AUXILIARY, LIBERTY UNIT 289
Meeting 2nd Wednesday of each month.
REA CODE 217
JEWEL JENNE route i
Sales Representative ALTAMONT, ILLINOIS
Best Wishes for a Wonderful
ROBERT A. COLLINS
CHARLES R. (BOB) HAYDEN
Circuit Clerk - Shelby County
James T. Jiter
Shelby County Treasurer
JAMES L. YOCKEY
Coroner. Shelb) ( ountj
IRL L SCHUYLER
Supt. Educational Service Region
CORNER DRUG STORE
SMITH D. TAYLOR, M.D.
Sh lh mil, . [llinois
CONGR \Tl 1 ITIONS!
Best Wishes to
JON'S DEPT. STORE
On Your 100th Anniversary!
SHELBY COUNTY STATE BANK
Shelby County State Bank
"Your Daily Interest Bank'
111 E. Main
P. N. HTRSCH & CO.
Congratulations to Strasburg
SEARS, l<oi HI < A & CO.
BEN FRANKLIN STORE
AREA SEED CORN DEALERS
Bobby L. Bridges
» hikiihi »t Monsanto
KING Ronnie Johnson
LICENSED TREE SERVICE
First in the Nation
First in the State
First in the Community
Welcome to the Hundertjahrfest!
Laundries & Car Washes
Stewardson & Strasburg
Ralph & Joyce Mietzner, Owners
A Good Newspaper In a Good Community
Over 5,000 Readers
Phone 217-682-3832 Stewardson, III.
QUALITY PRINTING & ADVERTISING
Mabelle M. Ryan, Publisher
Mr. & Mrs. Ace Ryan, Business Managers
Suffolk & Hampshire Sheep
Chester White Hogs
Breeding Stock that Satisfies
Breeding Stock Available
Greg Smith John A. or David Smith
Joe & Marie Falk
Finest Fabrics at the Lowest Possible Price
Complete Line of Sewing Notions
Congratulations on 100 Years!
Wente Locker Service
Custom Butchering - Home Killed Meats
Phone 682 3294
PANA HILLSBORO MUTUAL
SHELBYV1LLE MUTUAL FIRE INS.
Ronald Beit/, Agent
Licensed & Bonded Grain Dealer
Dealer-Grain, Trojan Seed Corn
Registered Appaloosa Horses
We wish to thank the citizenry
for your loyal support
during our 27 years of business
in your village.
Earl, Noberta, Anita, Larry and Edward
RENSHAW'S SUPER- WAY
THE BIGGEST STORE IN TOWN
It pays in the end,
to shop here in the beginning!
A complete line of
groceries - meats - sundries - dry goods
BIEHLER HATCHERY CO.
Serving the Poultry Industry
We've come a long way
since Butler manufactured
its first grain bin in 1908.
Now we have a complete
line of accessories for
improving farming efficiency.
YORK BIN COMPANY
DERBY D. YORK Owner
"Service After the Sale"
On 100 Years of Progress
CRUKHER SALES AND SERVICE
P.O. Box 355 Phone 644-2646
Outdoor Power Equipment
Now representing the oldest, eontinnin;
Family Bell makers in the world.
Gebruder Rinker of Sinn. Germany
JIM WITTENBERG TRUCKING
Speciality in Grain and Produce Hauling
Phone 644-3031 Strasburg, Illinois
Dale & Emily J. Young
SANIBEL MANUFACTURING CO.
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSU8ANCS CORP0«AII0N
A :«<« J
(Home of the Hundertjahrfest)
SEE US FOR ALL YOUR BUILDING NEEDS
Quality Lumber Courteous Service
Hardware And a Square Deal!
'7&ai$& tyMt fa yam fia&uHtafe <uut wetcante fo
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
3 0112 025397701